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Full text of "The debtor : a novel"

4 



I 



'4 




" HOW DID YOU GET THAT MONEY!'" 



THE DEBTOR 



BY 

MARY E. WILKINS FREEMAN 

AUTHOR OF 
"THE PORTION OF LABOR" " JEROME " 
"A NEW ENGLAND NUN " ETC. 



ILLUSTRATIONS BY 
W. D. STEVENS 




NEW YORK AND LONDON 
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 
19 5 



Copyright, 1904, 1905, by Harper & Brothers. 

All rights reserved. 
Published October, 1905. 



TO 

ANNIE FIELDS ALDEN 

AND 

HARRIET ALDEN 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



"HUSH!' SHE WHISPERED. 'WHAT WAS THAT?'" . Facing p. $2 

'it was a great butterfly, much dilapidated 

as to its gorgeous wings " " 102 

"why/ she cried, 'there is ina! there is my 

sister!'" . " 174 

'she was sipping a glass of port -wine, with 

mrs. anderson supporting her head " . . . " 312 

"look at my hands,' said she, ' see how thin 

THEY BE'" " 368 

'THE elder woman's QUICK EYE SAW THAT THE 

GIRL WAS UNSUITABLY ARRAYED" M 450 

'SHE STOOD STARING DOWN THE TRACK AT THE UN- 
SWERVING signal-lights" " 502 



THE DEBTOR 



THE DEBTOR 



CHAPTER I 

Banbridge lies near enough to the great City to per- 
ceive after nightfall, along the southern horizon, the 
amalgamated glow of its multitudinous eyes of electric 
fire. In the daytime the smoke of its mighty breathing, 
in its race of progress and civilization, darkens the 
southern sky. The trains of great railroad systems 
speed between Banbridge and the City. Half the male 
population of Banbridge and a goodly proportion of 
the female have for years wrestled for their daily bread 
in the City, which the little village has long echoed, 
more or less feebly, though still quite accurately, with 
its own particular little suburban note. 

Banbridge had its own " season," beginning shortly 
after Thanksgiving, and warming gradually until about 
two weeks before Lent, when it reached its high-water 
mark. All winter long there were luncheons and teas 
and dances. There was a whist club, and a flourishing 
woman's club, of course. It was the women who were 
thrown with the most entirety upon the provincial re- 
sources. But they were a resolved set, and they kept up 
the gait of progress of their sex with a good deal of suc- 
cess. They improved their minds and their bodies, hav- 
ing even a physical-culture club and a teacher coming 
weekly from the City. That there were links and a golf 
club goes without saying. 

i 



THE DEBTOR 



It was spring, and golf had recommenced for some 
little time. Mrs. Henry Lee and Mrs. William Van 
Dorn passed the links that afternoon. 

The two ladies were being driven about Banbridge 
by Samson Rawdy, the best liveryman in Banbridge, 
in his best coach, with his two best horses. The horses, 
indeed, two fat bays, were considered as rather sacred 
to fashionable calls, as was the coach, quite a resplen- 
dent affair, with very few worn places in the cloth 
lining. 

Banbridge ladies never walked to make fashionable 
calls. They had a coach even for calls within a radius 
of a quarter of a mile, where they could easily have 
walked, and did walk on any other occasion. It would 
have shocked the whole village if a Banbridge woman 
had gone out in her best array, with her card-case, mak- 
ing calls on foot. Therefore, in this respect the ladies 
who were better off in this world's goods often displayed 
a friendly regard for those who could ill afford the neces- 
sary expense of state calls. Often one would invite an- 
other to call with her, defraying all the expenses of the 
trip, and Mrs. Van Dorn had so invited Mrs. Lee to-day. 
Mrs. Lee, who was a small, elderly woman, was full of 
deprecating gratitude and a sense of obligation which 
made it appear incumbent upon her not to differ with 
her companion in any opinion which she might ad- 
vance, and, as a rule, to give her the initiative in con- 
versation during their calls, and the precedence in entry 
and retreat. 

Mrs. Van Dorn was as small as her companion, but 
with a confidence of manner which seemed to push her 
forward in the field of vision farther than her size war- 
ranted. 

She was also highly corseted, and much trimmed over 
her shoulders, which gave an effect of superior size and 
weight; her face, too, was very full and rosy, while the 

2 



THE DEBTOR 

other's was narrow and pinched at the chin and deli- 
cately transparent. 

Mrs. Van Dorn sat quite erect on the very edge of the 
seat, and so did Mrs. Lee. Each held her card-case in 
her two hands encased in nicely cleaned, white kid gloves. 
Each wore her best gown and her best bonnet. The 
coach was full of black velvet streamers, and lace frills 
and silken lights over precise knees, and the nodding of 
flowers and feathers. 

There was, moreover, in the carriage a strong odor 
of Russian violet, which diffused itself around both the 
ladies. Russian violet was the calling perfume in vogue 
in Banbridge. It nearly overcame the more legitimate 
fragrance of the spring day which floated in through 
the open windows of the coach. 

It was a wonderful day in May. The cherry-trees 
were in full bloom, and tremulous with the winged 
jostling of bees, and the ladies inhaled the sweetness 
intermingled with their own Russian violet in a bouquet 
of fragrance. It was warm, but there was the life of 
youth in the air; one felt the bound of the pulse of the 
spring, not its lassitude of passive yielding to the forces 
of growth. 

The yards of the village homes, or the grounds, as 
they were commonly designated, were gay with the 
earlier flowering shrubs, almond and bridal wreath and 
Japanese quince. The deep scarlet of the quince- 
bushes was evident a long distance ahead, like floral 
torches. Constantly tiny wings flashed in and out the 
field of vision with insistences of sweet flutings. The 
day was at once redolent and vociferous. 

"It is a beautiful day," said Mrs. Van Dorn. 

"Yes, it is beautiful," echoed Mrs. Lee, with fervor. 

Her faded blue eyes, under the net-work of ingratiating 
wrinkles, looked aside, from self-consciousness, out of 
the coach window at a velvet lawn with a cherry-tree 

3 



THE DEBTOR 



and a dark fir side by side, and a Japanese quince in the 
foreground. 

After passing the house, both ladies began pluming 
themselves, carefully rubbing on their white gloves and 
asking each other if their bonnets were on straight. 

"Your bonnet is so pretty," said Mrs. Lee, admir- 
ingly. 

"It's a bonnet I have had two years, with a little 
bunch of violets and new strings," said Mrs. Van Dorn, 
with conscious virtue. 

11 It looks as if it had just come out of the store," said 
Mrs. Lee. She was vainly conscious of her own head- 
gear, which was quite new that spring, and distinctly 
prettier than the other woman's. She hoped that Mrs. 
Van Dorn would remark upon its beauty, but she did 
not. Mrs. Van Dorn was a good woman, but she had 
her limitations when it came to admiring in another 
something that she had not herself. 

Mrs. Lee's superior bonnet had been a jarring note for 
her all the way. She felt in her inmost soul, though 
she would have been loath to admit the fact to herself, 
that a woman whom she had invited to make calls with 
her at her expense had really no right to wear a finer 
bonnet — that it was, to say the least, indelicate and 
tactless. Therefore she remarked, rather dryly, upon 
the beauty of a new pansy-bed beside the drive into 
which they now turned. The bed looked like a bit of 
fairy carpet in royal purples and gold. 

"I call that beautiful," said Mrs. Van Dorn, with a 
slight emphasis on the that, as if bonnets were nothing; 
and Mrs. Lee appreciated her meaning. 

"Yes, it is lovely," she said, meekly, as they rolled 
past and quite up to the front-door of the house upon 
whose mistress they were about to call. 

"I wonder if Mrs. Morris is at home," said Mrs. Van 
Dorn, as she got a card from her case. 

4 



THE DEBTOR 



"I think it is doubtful, it is such a lovely day," said 
Mrs. Lee, also taking out a card. 

Samson Rawdy threw open the coach door with a 
flourish and assisted the ladies to alight. He had a 
sensation of distinct reverence as the odor of Russian 
violet came into his nostrils. 

"When them ladies go out makin' fashionable calls 
they have the best perfumery I ever seen," he was fond 
of remarking to his wife. 

Sometimes he insisted upon her going out to the stable 
and sniffing in the coach by way of evidence, and she 
would sniff admiringly and unenviously. She knew her 
place. The social status of every one in Banbridge 
was defined quite clearly. Those who were in society 
wore their honors easily and unquestioned, and those 
who were not went their uncomplaining ways in their 
own humble spheres. 

Mrs. Van Dorn and Mrs. Henry Lee, gathering up 
their silken raiment genteelly, holding their visiting- 
cards daintily, went up the front-door steps, and Mrs. 
Lee, taking that duty upon herself, since she was Mrs. 
Van Dorn's guest, pulled the door-bell, having first 
folded her handkerchief around her white glove. 

" It takes so little to soil white gloves/' said she, " and 
I think it is considerable trouble to send them in and out 
to be cleaned." 

"I clean mine with gasolene myself," said Mrs. Van 
Dorn, with the superiority of a woman who has no need 
for such economies, yet practises them, over a woman 
who has need but does not. 

"I never had much luck cleaning them myself/' said 
Mrs. Lee, apologetically. 

44 It is a knack," admitted Mrs. Van Dorn. Then 
they waited in silence, listening for an approaching 
footstep. 

"If she isn't at home," whispered Mrs, Van Dorn, 

5 



THE DEBTOR 



"we can make another call before the two hours are 
up." Mr. Rawdy was hired by the hour. 

"Yes, we can," assented Mrs. Lee. 

Then they waited, and neither spoke. Mrs. Lee had 
occasion to sneeze, but she pinched her nose energetically 
and repressed it. 

Suddenly both straightened themselves and held their 
cards in readiness. 

"How does my bonnet look?" whispered Mrs. Lee. 

Mrs. Van Dorn paid no attention, for then the door 
was opened and Mrs. Morris's maid appeared, with cap 
awry and her white apron over a blue-checked gingham 
which was plainly in evidence at the sides. 

The ladies gave her their cards, and followed her 
into the best parlor, which was commonly designated in 
Banbridge as the reception-room. The best parlor was 
furnished with a sort of luxurious severity. There were 
a few pieces of staid old furniture of a much earlier 
period than the others, but they were rather in the 
background in the gloomy corners, and the new pieces 
were thrust firmly forward into greater evidence. 

Mrs. Van Dorn sat down on the corner of a fine velvet 
divan, and Mrs. Lee near her on the edge of a gold chair. 
Then they waited, while the maid retired with their 
cards. "It's a pretty room, isn't it?" whispered Mrs. 
Lee, looking about. 

"Beautiful." 

"She kept a few pieces of the old furniture that she 
had in her old house when this new one was built, 
didn't she?" 

"Yes. I suppose she didn't feel as if she could buy 
all new." 

The ladies studied all the furnishings of the room, 
keeping their faces in readiness to assume their calling 
expression at an instant's notice when the hostess should 
appear. 

6 



THE DEBTOR 



"Did she have those vases on the mantel-shelf in the 
old house?" whispered Mrs. Lee, after a while; but Mrs. 
Van Dorn made a warning gesture, and instantly both 
ladies straightened themselves and looked pleasantly 
expectant, and Mrs. Morris appeared. 

She was a short and florid woman, and her face was 
flushed a deep rose, beads of perspiration glistened on 
her forehead, her black hair clung to it in wet strands. 
In her expression polite greeting and irritation and in- 
tense discomfort struggled for mastery. She had been 
house-cleaning when the door-bell rang, and had has- 
tened into her black skirt and black-and-white silk 
blouse. The blouse was buttoned wrong, and it did not 
meet the skirt in the back; and she had quite overlooked 
her neckgear, but of that she was pleasantly unconscious, 
also of the fact that there was a large black smooch be- 
side her nose, giving her both a rakish and a sinister air. 

" I am so glad to find you in," said Mrs. Van Dorn. 

"I was telling Mrs. Van Dorn that I was so afraid 
you would be out, it is such a lovely day," said Mrs. 
Lee. 

"I am so glad I was in," responded Mrs. Morris, with 
effusion. "I should have been so disappointed to miss 
your call." 

Then the ladies seated themselves, and the conversa- 
tion went on. Overhead the maid could be heard 
'heavily tramping. The carpet of that room was up, 
and the mistress and maid had planned to replace it be- 
fore night ; but the mistress held fast to her effusive air 
of welcome. It had never been fashionable or even al- 
lowable not to be at home when one was at home in 
Banbridge. When Banb ridge ladies went abroad call- 
ing, in the coach, much was exacted. Mrs. Morris could 
never have held up her social head again had she fibbed, 
or bidden the maid fib — that is, if it had been discov- 
ered. 

7 



THE DEBTOR 



"How lovely your house is, Mrs. Morris!" said Mrs. 
Van Dorn, affably. The Morris house was only a year 
old, and had not yet been nearly exhausted as a topic 
of polite conversation. 

"Thank you," said Mrs. Morris. "Of course there 
are things about the furnishings, but one cannot do 
everything in a minute." 

"Now, my dear Mrs. Morris," said Mrs. Lee, "I think 
everything is sweet." Mrs. Lee said sweet with an effect 
as if she stamped hard to emphasize it. She made it 
long and extremely sibilant. Mrs. Lee always said sweet 
after that fashion. 

"Oh, of course you would rather have all your fur- 
niture new, than part new and part old," said Mrs. 
Van Dorn; "but, as you say, you can't do everything 
at once." 

Mrs. Van Dorn was inclined at times to be pugna- 
ciously truthful, when she heard any one else lie. Her 
hostess looked uneasily at an old red velvet sofa in 
a dark corner, which was not so dark that a worn 
place along the front edge did not seem to glare at her. 
Nobody by any chance sat on that sofa and looked at 
the resplendent new one. They always sat on the new 
and faced the old. Mrs. Morris began absently calcu- 
lating, while the conversation went on to other topics, 
if she could possibly manage a new sofa before summer. 

Mrs. Lee asked if she knew if the new people in the 
Ranger place, "Willow Lake," were very rich ? She said 
she had heard they were almost millionaires. 

"Yes," said Mrs. Morris. "Very rich indeed. Mr. 
Morris says he thinks they must be, from everything he 
hears." 

"Of course it does not matter in one way or another 
whether they are rich or not," said Mrs. Lee. 

"Well, I don't know," said Mrs. Van Dorn. "Of 
course nobody is going to say that money is everything, 

8 



THE DEBTOR 



and of course everybody knows that good character is 
worth more than anything else, and yet I do feel as if 
folks with money can do so much if they have the will." 

"I think that these new people are very generous 
with their money, " said Mrs. Morris. "I heard they 
about supported the church in Hillfield, New York, 
where they used to live, and Captain Carroll has joined 
the Village Improvement Society, and he says he is very 
much averse to trading with any but the local trades- 
men. " 

"What is he captain of ?" inquired Mrs. Lee, who had 
at times a fashion of putting a question in a most fatu- 
ously simple and childish manner. 

"Oh, I don't suppose he is really captain of anything 
now," replied Mrs. Morris. "I don't know how he 
happened to be captain, but I suppose he must have 
been a captain in the regular army.' , 

" I suppose he hasn't any business, he is so very rich ?" 

"Oh yes; he has something in the City. I dare say 
he does not do very much at it, but I presume he is an 
active man and does not want to be idle." 

"Why didn't he stay in the army, then?" asked Mrs. 
Lee, clasping her small white kid hands and puckering 
her face inquiringly. 

"I don't know. Perhaps that was too hard, or took 
him away too far. I suppose some of those army posts 
are pretty desolate places to live in, and perhaps his 
wife was afraid of the Indians." 

"He's got a wife and family, I hear," said Mrs. Van 
Dorn. 

Both calling ladies were leaning farther and farther 
towards Mrs. Morris with an absorption of delight. It 
was as if the three had their heads together over a hone} r - 
pot. 

"Mr. Lee said he heard they had a fine turnout," said 
Mrs. Lee. 



9 



THE DEBTOR 



"Mrs. Peel told me that Mr. Peel said the horses 
never cost less than a thousand,' ' said Mrs. Van Dorn. 

"A thousand!" repeated Mrs. Morris. "Mr. Morris 
said horses like those were never bought under twenty- 
five hundred, and Mr. Morris is a pretty good judge of 
horse-flesh. 

" Mr. Van Dorn said Dr. Jerrolds told him that Captain 
Carroll told him he expected to keep an automobile, and 
was afraid the Ranger stable wouldn't be large enough," 
said Mrs. Van Dorn. 

"So I heard," said Mrs. Lee. 

"I hear he pays a very lar^e rent to Mr. Ranger — the 
largest rent he has ever got for that house," said Mrs. 
Morris. 

"Well, I hear he pays fifty dollars a month." 

"Why, he never got more than forty before!" said 
Mrs. Lee. "That is, I don't believe he ever did." 

"I know he didn't," said Mrs. Morris, positively. 

"Well, it is a handsome place," said Mrs. Lee. 

"Yes, it is, but these new people aren't satisfied. 
They must have been used to pretty grand things where 
they came from. They want the stable enlarged, as I 
said before, and a box-stall. Mr. Carroll owns a famous 
trotter that he hasn't brought here yet, because he is 
afraid the stable isn't warm enough. I heard he wanted 
steam-heat out there, and a room finished for the coach- 
man, and hard-wood floors all over the house. They 
say he has two five-thousand-dollar rugs." 

"The house is let furnished, I thought," said Mrs. 
Van Dorn. 

"Yes, it is, and the furniture is still there. The Car- 
rolls don't want to bring on many of their own things 
till they are sure the house is in better order. I heard 
they talk of buying it." 

"Do you know how much — " inquired Mrs. Van 
Dorn, breathlessly, while Mrs. Lee leaned nearer, her 

TO 



THE DEBTOR 



eyes protruding, her small thin mouth open, and her 
white kid fingers interlacing. 

"Well, I heard fifteen thousand." 

Both callers gasped. 

"Well, it is a great thing for Banbridge to have such 
people come here and buy real estate and settle, if they 
are the right sort," said Mrs. Van Dorn, rising to go; 
and Mrs. Lee followed her example, with a murmur of 
assent to the remark. 

"Must you go?" said Mrs. Morris, with an undertone 
of joy, thinking of her carpet up-stairs, and rising with 
thinly veiled alacrity. 

"Have you called?" asked Mrs. Van Dorn, moving 
towards the door, and gathering up her skirts delicately 
with her white kid fingers, preparatory to going down 
the steps. Mrs. Lee followed, also gathering up her 
skirts. 

"No, I have not yet," replied Mrs. Morris, preceding 
them to the door and opening it for them, " but I intend 
to do so very soon. I have been pretty busy house-clean- 
ing since they came, and that is only two weeks ago, 
but I am going to call." 

" I think it is one's duty to call on new-comers, with a 
view to their church -going, if nothing else," said Mrs. 
Van Dorn, with a virtuous air. 

"So do I," said Mrs. Lee. 

" Good-afternoon/ ' said Mrs. Van Dorn. "What a 
beautiful day it is!" 

Both ladies bade Mrs. Morris good-afternoon and she 
returned the salutation with unction. Both ladies 
looked fascinatedly to the last at the black smooch on 
her cheek as they backed out. 

"I thought 1 should burst right out laughing every 
time I looked at her, in spite of myself," whispered Mrs. 
Lee, as they passed down the walk. 

"So did I." 

ii 



THE DEBTOR 



"And no collar on!" 

"Yes. She must have been house-cleaning." 

"Yes. Well, I don't want to say disagreeable things, 
but really it doesn't seem to me that I would have been 
house-cleaning such an afternoon as this, when people 
were likely to be out calling/ ' 

"Well, I know I would not," said Mrs. Van Dorn, 
decidedly. "I should have done what I could in the 
morning, and left what I couldn't do till next day." 

"So should I." 

Samson Rawdy stood at the coach-door, and both 
ladies stepped in. Then he stood waiting expectantly 
for orders. The ladies looked at each other. 

"Where shall we go next?" asked Mrs. Lee. 

"Well, I don't know," said Mrs. Van Dorn, hesitat- 
ingly. "We w r ere going to Mrs. Fairfield's next, but I 
am afraid there won't be time if — " 

"It really seems to me that we ought to go to call on 
those new people," said Mrs. Lee. 

"Well, I think so too. I suppose there would be time 
if Mrs. Fairfield wasn't at home, and it is such a lovely 
day I doubt if she is, and it is on the way to the Car- 
rolls'." She spoke with sudden decision to Samson 
Rawdy. "Drive to Mr. Andrew Fairfield's, and as 
fast as you can, please." Then she and Mrs. Lee 
leaned back as the coach whirled out of the Morris 
grounds. 

It was only a short time before they wound swiftly 
around the small curve of drive before the Fairfield 
house. "There is no need of both of us getting out," 
said Mrs. Van Dorn. 

Mrs. Van Dorn alighted and went swiftly with a tip- 
toeing effect upon the piazza-steps. She was seen to 
touch the bell. She waited a short space, and then she 
did not touch it again. She tucked the cards under the 
door-step, and hurried back to the carriage. 

12 



THE DEBTOR 



"I knew she wasn't at home," said she, in a whisper, 
" it is such a lovely day." She turned to Samson Rawdy, 
who stood holding open the coach - door. ''Now you 
may drive to those new people who have moved into 
the Ranger place," said she, " Mrs. Carroll's. " 



CHAPTER II 



There are days in spring wherein advance seems as 
passive as is the progress of a log down the race of a 
spring freshet. Then there are other days wherein it 
seems that every mote must feel to the full its sentient 
life, and its swelling towards development or fulfilment. 
On a day like the latter, everything and everybody be- 
stirs. The dust motes spin in whirling columns, the 
gnats dance for their lives their dance of death before 
the wayfarer. The gardeners and the grave-diggers 
turn up the earth with energy, making the clods fly like 
water. The rich play, or work that they may play, 
as do the poor. Everybody is up and wide awake and 
doing. The earth and the habitations thereof are 
rubbed, cleaned, and swept, or skylarked over; the boy 
plays with his marbles on the sidewalk or whoops over 
the fields; the housewives fling wide open their house 
windows, and the dust of the winter flies out like smoke; 
the tradesmen set out their new wares to public view, 
the bees make honey, the birds repeat their world-old 
nesting songs, the cocks crow straight through the day; 
nothing stops till the sun sets, and even then it is hard 
for such an ardent clock of life to quite run down. 

It was that spirit of unrest which had sent the two 
ladies out making calls. There was not one where, if 
the womenkind were at home at all and not afield, but 
they had been possessed of the spring activity, until they 
reached the Ranger place, where the new-comers to Ban- 
bridge lived. The Ranger place was, in some respects 

14 



THE DEBTOR 



the most imposing house in Banbridge. It stood well 
back from the road, in grounds which deserved the 
name. They were extensive, dotted with stately groups 
of spruces and pines, and there was in the rear of the 
house a pond with a rustic bridge, fringed with willows, 
which gave the place its name, " Willow Lake." The 
house had formerly been owned by two maiden women 
with much sentiment, the sisters of the present owner. 
The place was "Willow Lake." The pond was the 
"Willow Mere," in defiance of the name of the place. 
The little rustic bridge was the "Bridge of Sighs," for 
some obscure reason, perhaps buried in the sentimental 
past of the sisters. And the little hollow which was 
profusely sprinkled with violets in the spring was "Idle- 
wild." It was in "Idlewild" that the new family, per- 
verse to the spirit of the day, idled when the callers drove 
up the road in the best coach. 

There was in the little violet - sprinkled hollow a 
small building with many peaks as to its roof, and dia- 
mond- paned windows which had been fitted out with 
colored glass in a hideous checker-work of orange and 
crimson and blue, which the departed sisters had called, 
none but themselves knew why, "The Temple." On 
the south side grew a rose-bush of the kind which flour- 
ished most easily in the village, taking most kindly to 
the soil. It was an ordinary kind of rose. The sisters 
had called it an eglantine, but it was not an eglantine. 
They had been very fond, when the weather permitted, 
of sitting in this edifice with their work. The place was 
fitted up with a rustic table and two quite uncomfortable 
rustic chairs, particularly uncomfortable for the sisters, 
who were of a thin habit of body. 

When James Ranger, who was himself not a man of 
sentiment, showed the new aspirant for the renting of 
the place this fantastic building, he spoke of it with a 
species of apology. 

J 5 



THE DEBTOR 



"My sisters had this built," said he, "and it cost 
considerable," for he did not wish to disparage the 
money value of anything. 

When the family were established in their new home, 
one of the first things which they did — they signifying 
Mrs. Carroll, Miss Anna Carroll, the daughters Miss Ina 
and Miss Charlotte Carroll, and the son Edward Carroll, 
called Eddy by the family — was to march in a body upon 
the little "Temple," and, armed with stones, proceed 
with shouts of merriment to smash out every spear of 
the crimson and orange and blue glass in the windows. 
They then demolished the rustic furniture and made of 
that a noble bonfire. Mrs. Carroll had indeed wondered, 
between fits of laughter, in her sweet drawl, if they 
ought to destroy the furniture, as it could not be said, 
strictly speaking, to belong to them to destroy, but she 
was promptly vetoed by all the others in merry chorus. 

"They are too hideous to live," said Ina; " they ought 
to be burned. It is our plain duty to burn them." 

Therefore they burned them, and brought out some 
of the parlor chairs to replace them. Then Eddy was 
sent to Rosenstein's, the village dry-goods store of 
Banbridge, for yards of green mosquito netting, which, 
the Carroll credit being newly established with a blare of 
trumpets, he purchased. Then they had tacked up 
the green mosquito netting over the window and door 
gaps, for they had forcibly w T renched the ornate door 
from its hinges and added it to the bonfire, and the 
temple of the Muses stood in a film of gently undu- 
lating green under the green willows, and was rather 
a thing of beauty. 

The Carrolls loved to pass away the time in that retreat 
veiled with cloudy green, through which they could see 
the dull glimmer of the pond, like an old shield of silver, 
reflecting the waving garlands of the willows, which at 
that time of year were as beautiful as trees of heaven, 

16 



THE DEBTOR 



having effects of waving lines of liquid green light, and 
the charming violet-blue turf around them. 

The afternoon of the call all the female members of 
the Carroll family were out there. Captain Carroll was 
in the City, and Eddy, who, being a boy, was more 
susceptible to the lash of atmospheric influence, had 
gone fishing. 

"I wonder why Eddy likes to go fishing," said Mrs. 
Carroll, in her sweet drawl. "Eddy never caught any- 
thing." 

"You don't have a very high opinion of your son's 
powers as a fisherman, Amy," said Ina, and they all 
laughed. The Carrolls were an easy-to-laugh family, 
and always seemed to find delicious humor in one an- 
other's remarks. 

"Amy never thinks any of us can catch anything," 
said Charlotte, the younger daughter, and they all 
laughed again. 

Mrs. Carroll was always Amy in her family. Never 
did one of her children address her as a parent. 

They were a charming group in the little, green, 
gloomy place, each with the strongest possible family 
likeness to the others. They were as much alike as the 
roses on one bush; all were, although not tall, long, and 
slim of body, and childishly round of face, with deli- 
cate coloring; all had pathetic dark eyes and soft lengths 
of dark hair. Mrs. Carroll and her husband's sister, 
although not nearly related (Mrs. Carroll had married 
her many-times-removed cousin), resembled each other 
as if they had been sisters of one family, and the children 
resembled their mother. The only difference among 
any of them was a slight difference of expression that 
existed mostly in the youngest girl, Charlotte. There 
were occasions when Charlotte Carroll's expression of 
soft and pathetic wistfulness and pleading could change 
to an expression of defiance, almost fierceness. 

i7 



THE DEBTOR 



Her mother often told her that she resembled in dispo- 
sition her paternal grandmother, who had been a woman 
of high temper, albeit a great beauty. 

"Charlotte, dear, you are just like your grandmother, 
dear Arthur's mother, who was the worst - tempered 
and loveliest woman in Kentucky," Mrs. Carroll often 
remarked. She scarcely sounded the t in Kentucky, 
since she also was of the South, where the languid air 
tends to produce elisions. The Carrolls came originally 
from Kentucky, and had lived there until after the births 
of the two daughters. When they were scarcely more 
than infants, Arthur Carroll had experienced the petty 
and individual, but none the less real, cataclysm of ex- 
perience which comes to most men sooner or later. It 
is the earthquake of a unit, infinitesimal, but entirely 
complete of its kind, and possibly as far-reaching in its 
thread of consequences. Arthur Carroll had had his 
palmy days, when he was working with great profits, 
and, as he believed, with entire righteousness and re- 
gard to his fellow-men, a coal-mine in the Kentucky 
mountains. He had inherited it from his father, as the 
larger part of his patrimony. When most of the prop- 
erty had been dissipated, at the time of the civil war, 
the elder Carroll, who was broken by years and reverses, 
used often to speak of this unimproved property of his, 
to his son Arthur, who was a young boy at the time. 
Anna, who was a mere baby, was the only other child. 

"When you are a man, Arthur," he was fond of re- 
marking — "when you are a man, you must hire some 
money, sell what little is left here, if necessary, and work 
that coal-mine. I always meant to do it myself, and 
reckon I should have, if that damned war had not taken 
the money and the strength out of the old man. But 
when you are a man, Arthur, you must work that 
mine, and you must build up what the war has torn 
down. You can buy back and restore, Arthur, and if 

18 



THE DEBTOR 



the South should get back her rights by that time, as 
she may, why, then, you can stock up the old place again, 
and go on as your father did." 

The old man, who was gouty and full of weary chills 
of body and mind, used to sit in the sun and dream, to 
his faint solace, until Arthur was a grown man and 
through college, and Anna a young girl at school near 
by. The little that had been left, with the bare excep- 
tion of the home estate, the plantation, and the mine, 
had been sold to pay for Arthur's education. Arthur 
had been out of college only one summer when his 
father died. His mother, whose proud spirit had 
fretted the flesh from her bones and drunk up her very 
blood with futile rage and repining, had died during the 
war. Then Arthur, who had control of everything, as 
his sister's guardian, set to work to carry out his father's 
cherished dream with regard to the coal-mine. He sold 
every foot of the estate to a neighboring planter, an old 
friend of his father's, at a sacrifice, with a condition at- 
tached that he should have the option of buying it back 
for cash, at an advanced price, at the end of five years. 
The purchaser, who was a shrewd sort, of Scotch de- 
scent, curiously grafted on to an impetuous, hot-blooded 
Southern growth, looked at the slim young fellow with 
his expression of ingenuous almost fatuous confidence 
in his leading-strings of fate, and considered that he 
was safe enough and had made a good bargain. He 
too had suffered from the war, in more ways than one. 
He had come out of the strife shorn in his fleece of world- 
ly wealth and mutilated as to his body. He limped 
stiffly on a wooden leg, and his fine buildings had gone 
up in fire and smoke. But during the years since the 
war he had retrieved his fortunes. People said he was 
worth more than before ; everything he had handled had 
prospered. He was one of those men whose very touch 
seems to multiply possessions. He was a much younger 



THE DEBTOR 



man than Arthur's father, and robust at the time of his 
death. He explained to Arthur that he was doing him 
an incalculable service in purchasing his patrimonial 
estate, when he announced his decision so to do, after 
taking several weeks to conceal his alacrity. 

"It is not everybodee would take a propertee, with 
such a condeetion attached, Arthur, boy," he said. He 
had at times a touch of the Scotch in his accent. His 
father had been straight from the old country when he 
married the planter's daughter. "Not everybodee, 
with such a condeetion," he repeated, and the boy in- 
nocently believed him. He had been used, ever since 
he was a child and could remember anything, to seeing 
a good deal of the man. The Southern wife had died 
early and the man had been lonely and given to frequent 
friendly meetings with Mr. Carroll, who had valued him. 

"He's the right sort, Arthur," he had often told the 
boy; "you can depend on him. He has given his gold 
and his flesh and blood for the South, although he came 
on one side of another race and might have sided against 
us. He's the right sort." 

So the Scotch-Southern planter had been one of the 
bearers at the old Carroll's funeral, and the son, when 
he had formulated his business schemes, had gone to this 
friend with them, and with his proposal for the sale of 
the Carroll property. The boy, who was honorable to 
the finish, had been loath to ask, in the then reduced 
state of the property, for a loan on mortgage to the ex- 
tent which he would require ; therefore he proposed this 
conditional sale as offering rather better, or at least 
more evident, security, and he regarded it in his own 
mind as practically amounting to the same thing. He 
was as sure of his being able to purchase back his own, 
should he secure the necessary funds, as he would have 
been of paying up the mortgage. The advance price 
would about twice cover the interest at a goodly rate, 

20 



THE DEBTOR 



had the affair been conducted on the mortgage basis. 
Arthur himself had proposed that, and "I will of course 
pay for any improvements you may have made in the 
mean time," he said. There was nothing in the least 
mean or ungenerous about Arthur Carroll. He meant, 
on the whole, rather more squarely to his fellow-men 
than to himself. 

Then with the money obtained from the sale of his 
patrimony he went to work on his coal-mine. A very 
trifle of a beginning had been made on it before the war, 
so he had not actually to break the first ground. The 
previous owner had died bankrupt from lack of capital, 
and his minor daughter had inherited it. It was from 
the minor daughter that the elder Carroll had purchased 
it, partly with a view to assisting the child, who had 
been left penniless except for the mine, at the death of 
her father, who was of a distant branch of Carroll's own 
family. With the proceeds of the sale the girl was 
supported and educated; then she lost the remainder 
through the dishonesty of her guardian. That was 
the year after young Carroll began to w T ork the mine. 
Then he married her. She was a beautiful girl, and 
helpless as a flower. He married her without a cent 
to support her except the old coal-mine, and he worked 
as hard and bravely as a man could. And he pros- 
pered, to the utter amazement of everybody who 
watched him, and who had prophesied failure from the 
start. In four years he was looked upon with respect. 
People said he was fast getting rich. He went to the 
man who had bought the Carroll place, at the end of the 
four years, with the money in his hand and proposed 
purchasing it. He had not a doubt, such was his trust 
in the friendliness of the man, that he would gladly 
consent and pat him on the back with fatherly affection 
for his success; but, to his amazement, he was refused, 
although still under the guise of the purest philanthropy. 

21 



THE DEBTOR 

"No, Arthur, boy," he said. "It is best for you to 
keep the money in your business awhile longer. It 
will not do, in a big undertaking like a mine, for you to 
be creepled. No, Arthur, boy, wait until the next year 
is up. It is for your good." 

In vain Arthur offered an advance upon the original 
advance price. "No, Arthur, boy," he repeated. 

"No, Arthur, boy," he continued to repeat. "It is 
not wise for you to be creepled in your business." 

Arthur protested that he would not be crippled, but 
with no avail. He went away disappointed, and yet 
with his faith unshaken. He did not know what trans- 
pired later on, that negotiations which would materially 
enhance the value of the property were being carried 
on with a railroad by the planter, who was himself one 
of the railroad directors. 

About six months after Arthur's attempt to purchase 
back his ancestral acres, and while he was at high tide 
of a small prosperity, this same man came to him with a 
proposal for him to furnish on contract a large quantity 
of coal to this same railroad. Arthur jumped at the 
chance. The contract was drawn up by a lawyer in 
the nearest town and signed. Arthur, trusting blindly 
to the honesty and good-will of everybody, had hurried 
for his train without seeing more than that the stipulated 
rates had been properly mentioned in the contract. 
His wife was ill; in fact, Charlotte was only a few days 
old, and he was anxious and eager to be home. There 
had been no strikes at that period in that vicinity, and 
indeed comparatively few in the whole country. Arthur 
would almost as soon have thought of guarding in his 
contract against an earthquake; but the strike clause 
was left out, and there was a strike. In consequence 
he was unable to fill the contract without ruin, and he 
was therefore ruined. In the end the old friend of his 
father, who had purchased his patrimony, remained in 



THE DEBTOR 



undisputed possession of it, with an additional value 
of several thousands from the passage of the railroad 
through one end of the plantation, and had, besides, the 
mine. Arthur had sold the mine at a nominal price to 
pay his debts, to a third party who represented this 
man. He had been left actually penniless with a wife 
and two babies to support, but as his pocket became 
empty his very soul had seemed to become full to over- 
flowing with the rage and bitterness of his worldly ex- 
perience. He had learned that the man whom he had 
trusted had instigated the strike; he learned about the 
railroad deal. One night he went to his plantation 
with a shot-gun. He approached the house which had 
formerly been his own home, where the man was living 
then. He fully intended to shoot him. He had not a 
doubt but he should do it, and he had always considered 
that he should have carried out his purpose had not an 
old horse which the man had purchased with the estate, 
and which was loose on the lawn, from some reason or 
other, whinnied eagerly, and sidled up to him, and 
thrust her nose over his shoulder. He had been used, 
when a boy, to feed her sugar, and she remembered. 
Arthur went away through the soft Southern moonlight 
without shooting the man. Somehow it was because 
of the horse, and he never knew why it was. The old 
childish innocence and happiness seemed to flood over 
him in a light of spirit which dimmed the moonlight and 
swept away the will for murder from his soul. But the 
bitterness and the hate of the man who had wronged him 
never left him. The next day he went North, and the 
man in possession breathed more easily, for he had had 
secret misgivings. 

" You had better look out," another man had said to 
him. "You have trodden on the toes of a tiger when 
you have trodden on the toes of a Carroll. Sooner or 
later you will have to pay for it." 

3 23 



THE DEBTOR 



No one in the little Kentucky village knew what had 
become of Arthur Carroll for some time, with the excep- 
tion of an aunt of Mrs. Carroll's, who was possessed of 
some property and who lived there. She knew, but she 
told nothing, probably because she had a fierce pride of 
family. After years the Carroll girls, Ina and Charlotte, 
had come back to their father's birthplace and attended 
a small school some three miles distant from the village, 
a select young ladies' establishment at which their 
mother had been educated, and they had visited rather 
often at their great-aunt Catherine's. After they had fin- 
ished school, the great-aunt had paid the bills, although 
nobody knew it, not even the elderly sisters who kept the 
school, since the aunt lied and stated that Captain Carroll 
had sent the money. Arthur Carroll was called captain 
then, and nobody knew why, least of all Carroll himself. 
Suddenly he had been called captain, and after making 
a disclaimer or two at first, he had let it go; it was a 
minor dishonesty, and forced upon him in a measure. 
The old aunt calmly stated that he had joined the army, 
been rapidly promoted, and had resigned. People 
laughed a little, but not to her face. Besides, she had 
stated that Arthur was a very rich man, and much 
thought of among the Yankees, and nobody was in a 
position to disprove that. Certainly when the femi- 
nine Carrolls visited in the old place, their appearance 
carried out the theory of riches. They were very well 
dressed, and they looked well fed, with that placid, assured 
air which usually comes only from the sense of possession. 

The feminine Carrolls had been speaking of this old 
aunt that spring day as they sat idly in the little green- 
curtained temple beside the pond. They had indulged 
in a few low, utterly gentle, and unmalicious laughs of 
reminiscence at some of her eccentricities; then they 
had agreed that she was a good old soul, and said no 
more of her, but gazed with languorous delight at the 

24 



THE DEBTOR 



spring scene misty with green and rose and gold like the 
smoke of some celestial fire. 

Through the emerald dazzle of the trailing willow- 
boughs could be seen a small, blooming apple-tree, and a 
bush full of yellow flowers. Miss Anna Carroll and Ina 
held books in their laps, but they never looked in them. 
They were all very well dressed and they wore quite a 
number of fine jewels on their hands and at their necks, 
particularly Mrs. Carroll. Her stones, though only of 
the semi-precious kind, were very beautiful, amethysts 
which had belonged to a many-times-removed Creole 
grandmother of hers, and the workmanship of whose 
fine setting dated back to France, and there was a tradi- 
tion of royal ownership. Mrs. Carroll had a bracelet, a 
ring, a brooch, and a necklace. The stones, although 
deeply tinted, showed pink now instead of purple. In 
fact, they seemed to match the soft, rose-tinted India 
silk which she wore. 

"Amy's amethysts match colors like chamellons," 
said Ina. "Look how pink they are." 

"Lovely," said Charlotte, gazing admiringly. "The 
next time I go to a dance, you promised I should wear 
the necklace, Amy, dear." 

"You will not go to a dance for a long time in Ban- 
bridge, sweet, I fear," said Mrs. Carroll, with loving 
commiseration. 

"Somebody will call soon, and we shall be asked to 
something," said Charlotte, with conviction. 

"Nobody has'called yet," Ina said. 

"We have only been here three weeks," said Miss 
Anna Carroll, who was a beautiful woman, and, but 
for a certain stateliness of carriage, might have seemed 
but little older than her elder niece. 

"Somebody may be calling this afternoon," said Ina, 
"and the maid has gone out, and we should not know 
they called." 

25 



THE DEBTOR 



"Oh, let them leave their cards," said Mrs. Carroll, 
easily. "That is the only way to receive calls, and 
make them. If one could only know when people 
would be out, but not have them know you knew, al- 
ways — that would be lovely — and if one only knew 
when they were coming, so one could always be out — 
that would be lovelier still." Mrs. Carroll had a dis- 
jointed way of speaking when she essayed a long speech, 
that had almost an infantile effect. 

"Amy, how very ungracious of you, dear," said Miss 
Anna Carroll. "You know you always love people 
when you really do meet them." 

"Oh yes," replied Amy, "I know I love them." 

Meantime, Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Van Dorn were ringing 
the door-bell of the Carroll house. They rang the bell 
and waited, and nobody came. 

"Did you ring the bell?" asked Mrs. Van Dorn, 
anxiously. 

"I thought I did. I pressed the button very hard." 

" I didn't hear it. I think you had better ring again." 

Mrs. Lee obediently pressed the bell again, and then 
both ladies heard distinctly the far-away tinkle in the 
depths of the house. 

"I heard that," said Mrs. Lee. 

"Yes, so did I. It rang that time." 

Then the ladies waited again. 

"Suppose you ring again," said Mrs. Van Dorn, and 
Mrs. Lee rang again. Then they waited again, straining 
their ears for the slightest sound in the house. 

"I am afraid they are out," said Mrs. Van Dorn. 

"So am I. It is such a lovely afternoon." 

Mrs. Van Dorn, after they had waited a short time, 
put out her hand with a decisive motion, and rang the 
bell yet again. . 

"I'm going to make sure they are not at home," 
said she, "for I don't know when I shall get out calling 

26 



THE DEBTOR 



again, and I always feel as if it was my duty to call on 
new-comers in the village pretty soon after they move 
in." 

Then they waited again, but no one came. Once 
Mrs. Lee started and said she was sure she heard some 
one coming, but it was only the rumble of a train at a 
station two miles away. 

" Shall we leave our cards?" said Mrs. Lee. "I don't 
suppose there is much use in waiting any longer, or 
ringing again." 

Mrs. Van Dorn, who had been staring intently at the 
door, looked quickly at her companion with a curious 
expression. Her face had flushed. 

" What is it?" asked Mrs. Lee. "You don't suppose 
any one is in there and not coming to the door?" Mrs. 
Lee had a somewhat suspicious nature. 

"No; I don't think there is a soul in that house, 
but—" 

"But what?" 

"Nothing, only—" 

"Only what?" 

"Why, don't you see what they have done?" 

"I am afraid I don't quite know what you mean," 
Mrs. Lee returned, in a puzzled way. It was quite 
evident that Mrs. Van Dorn wished her to grasp some- 
thing which her own mind had mastered, that she wished 
it without further explanation, and Mrs. Lee felt be- 
wilderedly apologetic that she could not comply. 

"Don't you see that they have gone off and left the 
front door unlocked?" said Mrs. Van Dorn, with inflec- 
tions of embarrassment, eagerness, and impatience. If 
she and Mrs. Lee had been, as of yore, school-children 
together, she would certainly have said, "You ninny!" 
to finish. 

"Why!" returned Mrs. Lee, with a sort of gasp. 
She saw then that the front door was not only unlocked, 

27 



THE DEBTOR 



but slightly ajar. "Do you suppose they really are 
not at home?" she whispered. 

"Of course they are not at home." 

"Would they go away and leave the front door un- 
locked?" 

4 'They have." 

"They might be in the back part of the house, and 
not have heard the bell," Mrs. Lee said, with a curious 
tone, as if she replied to some unspoken suggestion. 

"I know this house as well as I do my own. You 
know how much I used to be here when the Ranger girls 
were alive. There is not a room in this house where 
anybody with ears can't hear the bell." 

Still, Mrs. Van Dorn spoke in that curiously ashamed 
and indignant voice. Mrs. Lee contradicted her no 
further. 

"Well, I suppose you must be right," said she. 
"There can't be anybody at home; but it is strange 
they went off and did not even shut the front door." 

"I don't know what the Ranger girls would have 
said, if they knew it. They would have had a fit at the 
bare idea of going away for ever so short a time, and 
leaving the house and furniture alone and the door un- 
locked." 

"Their furniture is here now, I suppose?" 

"Yes, I suppose so — some of it, anyway, but I 
don't know how much furniture these people bought, 
of course." 

"Mr. Lee said he heard they had such magnificent 
things." 

" I heard so, but you hear a good deal that isn't so in 
Banbridge!" 

"That is true. I suppose you knew the house and 
the Ranger girls' furniture so well that you could tell at 
a glance what was new and what wasn't?" 

" Yes, I could." 

28 



THE DEBTOR 



As with one impulse both women turned and peered 
through a green maze of trees and bushes at Samson 
Rawdy, several yards distant. 

"Can you see him?" whispered Mrs. Lee. 

"Yes. I think he's asleep. He is sitting with his 
head all bent over." 

"He is — not — looking ? " 

"No." 

Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Van Dorn regarded each other. 
Both looked at once ashamed and defiant before the 
other, then into each pair of eyes leaped a light of guilty 
understanding and perfect sympathy. There are some 
natures for whom curiosity is one of the master passions, 
and the desire for knowledge of the affairs of others can 
become a lust, and Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Van Dorn were of 
the number. Mrs. Van Dorn gave her head in her best 
calling-bonnet a toss, and the violets, which were none 
too securely fastened, nodded loosely; then she thrust 
her chin forward, she sniffed like a hunting-hound on 
the scent, pushed open the front -door, and entered, 
with Mrs. Lee following. As Mrs. Van Dorn entered, 
the violets on her bonnet became quite detached and fell 
softly to the floor of the porch, but neither of the ladies 
noticed. 

Mrs. Lee, in particular, had led a monotonous life, 
and she had a small but intense spirit which could have 
weathered extremes. Now her faculties seemed to give 
a leap; she was afraid, but there was distinct rapture 
in her fear. She had not been so actively happy since 
she was a child and had been left at home with the 
measles one Sunday when the rest of the family had gone 
to church, and she had run away and gone wading in the 
brook, at the imminent risk not only of condign pun- 
ishment, but of the measles striking in. She felt now 
just as then, as if something terrible and mysterious 
were striking in, and she fairly smacked her soul over it. 

29 



THE DEBTOR 



Mrs. Lee no longer shrank; she stood up straight; she 
also thrust her chin forward; her nose sharpened, her 
blue eyes contracted under her light brows. She even 
forgot her role of obligation, and did not give Mrs. Van 
Dorn the precedence; she actually pushed before her. 
Mrs. Van Dorn had closed the front door very softly, 
and they stood in a long, narrow hall, with an obsolete 
tapestry carpet, and large-figured gold and white paper 
revealing its gleaming scrolls in stray patches of light. 
Mrs. Lee went close to an old-fashioned black-walnut 
hat-tree, the one article of furniture besides a chair in 
the hall. 

"Was this theirs?" she whispered to Mrs. Van Dorn. 
Mrs. Van Dorn nodded. 

Mrs. Lee deliberately removed the nice white kid 
glove from her right hand, and extending one small taper 
forefinger, rubbed it over the surface of the black-walnut 
tree ; then she pointed meaningly at the piece of furniture, 
which plainly, even in the half-light, disclosed an un- 
housewifely streak. She also showed the dusty fore- 
finger to the other lady, and they both nodded with 
intense enjoyment. 

Then Mrs. Lee folded her silk skirts tightly around her 
and lifted them high above her starched white petticoat 
lest she contaminate them in such an untidy house; 
Mrs. Van Dorn followed her example, and they tip- 
toed into the double parlors. They were furnished, 
for the most part, with the pieces dating back to the 
building of the house, in one of the ugliest eras of the 
country, both in architecture and furniture. The ceil- 
ings in these rather small square rooms were so lofty 
that one was giddy with staring at the elaborate cornices 
and the plaster centrepieces. The mantels were all of 
massively carved marble, the windows were few and 
narrow, the doors multitudinous, and lofty enough for 
giants. The parlor floor was carpeted with tapestry in 

30 



THE DEBTOR 



enormous designs of crimson roses, in deliriums of ara- 
besques, though there were a few very good Eastern 
rugs. The furniture was black - walnut, upholstered in 
crimson plush ; the tables had marble tops ; the hangings 
were lace under heavily fringed crimson lambrequins 
dependent from massive gilt mouldings. There were 
a bronze clock and a whatnot and a few gilt-framed oil- 
paintings of the conventional landscape type, con- 
temporary with the furniture in American best parlors. 
Still, there were a few things in the room which directly 
excited comment on the part of the visitors. Mrs. Lee 
pointed at some bronzes on the shelf. 

"Those are theirs, aren't they?" said she. 

"Yes, the Ranger girls had some very handsome 
Royal Worcester vases. I guess James Ranger saw to it 
that those weren't left here." 

Mrs. Van Dorn eyed the bronzes with outward re- 
spect, but she did not admire them. Banbridge ladies, 
as a" rule, unless they posed, did not admire bronzes. 
She also viewed with some disapproval a number of 
exquisite little Chinese ivory carvings on the whatnot. 
"Those are theirs," said she. " The Ranger girls had 
some handsome bound books and a silver card-receiver, 
and a bust of Clytie on top of the whatnot. I suppose 
these are very expensive; I have always heard so. I 
never priced any, but it always seemed to me that they 
hardly showed the money/' 

"I suppose they have afternoon tea," said Mrs. Lee, 
regarding a charming little inlaid tea-table, decked with 
Dresden. 

"Perhaps so," replied Mrs. Van Dorn, doubtfully. 
"But I have noticed that when tea-tables are so hand- 
some, folks don't use them. They are more for show. 
That cloth is beautiful." 

"There is a tea-stain on it," declared Mrs. Lee, point- 
ing triumphantly. 

3i 



THE DEBTOR 



"That is so," assented Mrs. Van Dorn. "They must 
use it." She looked hard at the stain on the tea-cloth. 
"It's a pity to get tea on such a cloth as that," said 
she. "It will never come out." 

"Oh, I don't believe that will trouble them much," 
said Mrs. Lee, with soft maliciousness. She indicated 
with the pointed toe of her best calling-shoe, a hole in 
the corner of the resplendent Eastern rug. 

"Oh," returned Mrs. Van Dorn. 

"I know it is considered desirable to have these Ori- 
ental things worn," said Mrs. Lee, "but there is no 
sense in letting an expensive rug like this wear out, and 
no good house-keeper would." 

"Well, I agree with you," said Mrs. Van Dorn. 

Presently they passed on to the other rooms. They 
made a long halt in the dining-room. 

"That must be their solid silver," said Mrs. Van Dorn, 
regarding rather an ostentatious display on the side- 
board. 

"The idea of going away and leaving all that silver, 
and the doors unlocked!" said Mrs. Lee. 

"Evidently they are people so accustomed to rich 
things that they don't think of such risks," said Mrs. 
Van Dorn, with a curious effect of smacking her lips 
over possessions of her own, instead of her neighbors. 
She in reality spoke from the heights of a small but 
solid silver service, and a noble supply of spoons, and 
Mrs. Lee knew it. 

"I suppose they must have perfectly beautiful table- 
linen," remarked Mrs. Lee, with a w r istful glance at the 
sideboard-drawers. 

"Yes, I suppose so," assented Mrs. Van Dorn, with a 
half-sigh. Her eyes also on the closed drawers of the 
sideboard, were melancholy, but there was a line which 
neither woman could pass. They could pry about 
another woman's house in her absence, but they shrank 

32 



"'hush!' she whispered, 'what was that 



) 



THE DEBTOR 



from opening her drawers and investigating her closets. 
They respected all that was covered from plain sight. 
Up-stairs it was the same. Things were strewn about 
rather carelessly, therefore they saw more than they 
would otherwise have done, but the closet-doors and the 
bureau-drawers happened to be closed, and those were 
inviolate. 

"If all their clothes are as nice as these, they must 
have wardrobes nicer than any ever seen in Banb ridge,' ' 
said Mrs. Lee, fingering delicately a lace-trimmed petti- 
coat flung over a chair in one of the bedrooms. * ' This 
is real lace, don't you think so, Mrs. Van Dorn?" 

"I don't think. I know," replied Mrs. Van Dorn. 
"They must have elegant wardrobes, and they must 
be very wealthy people. They — " Suddenly Mrs. 
Van Dorn cut her remarks short. She turned quite 
pale and clutched at her companion's silk - clad arm. 
"Hush!" she whispered. "What was that?" 

Mrs. Lee, herself ashy white, looked at her. Both 
had distinctly heard a noise. Now they heard it again. 
The sound was that of footsteps, evidently those of a 
man, in the lower hall. 

"What shall we do? Oh, what shall we do?" said 
Mrs. Lee, in a thin whisper. She trembled so that she 
could scarcely stand. 

Mrs. Van Dorn, trying to speak, only chattered. She 
clutched Mrs. Lee harder. 

"Is there a back staircase? Oh, is there?" whispered 
Mrs. Lee. "Is there?" The odor of a cigar stole 
softly through the house. "I can smell his cigar," 
whispered Mrs. Lee, in an agony. 

Mrs. Van Dorn pulled herself together. She nodded, 
and began pulling Mrs. Lee towards the door. 

"Oh," panted Mrs. Lee, " anything except being 
caught up-stairs in their bedrooms! They might think 
— anvthing." 

33 



THE DEBTOR 



"Hurry!" hissed Mrs. Van Dorn. They could hear 
the footsteps very distinctly, and the cigar-smoke made 
them want to cough. Holding their silk skirts like 
twisted ropes around them so they should not rustle, 
still clinging closely one to the other, the two women 
began slowly moving, inch by inch, through the upper 
hall, towards the back stairs. These they descended 
in safety, and emerged on the lower hall. 

They were looking for a rear door, with the view of a 
stealthy egress and a skirting of the bushes on the lawn 
unobserved until they should gain the shelter of the 
carriage, when there was a movement at their backs, 
and a voice observed, ' ' Good - afternoon, ladies," and 
they turned, and there was Captain Arthur Carroll. 
He was a man possibly well over forty, possibly older 
than that, but his face was as smooth as a boy's, and he 
was a man of great stature, with nevertheless a boyish 
cant to his shoulders. Captain Arthur Carroll was a very 
handsome man, with a viking sort of beauty. He was 
faultlessly dressed in one of the lightest of spring suits and 
a fancy waistcoat, and he held quite gracefully the knot 
of violets which had fallen from Mrs. Van Dorn's bonnet. 

The two stood before him, gasping, coloring, trembling. 
For both of them it was horrible. All their lives they 
had been women who had held up their heads high in 
point of respectability and more. None was above them 
in Banbridge, no shame of wrong-doing or folly had 
ever been known by either of them, and now both their 
finely bonneted heads were in the dust. They stood 
before this handsome, courteously smiling gentleman 
and were conscious of a very nakedness of spirit. Their 
lust of curiosity was laid bare, they were caught in the 
act. Mrs. Van Dorn opened her mouth, she tried to 
speak, but she only made a strange, croaking sound. 
Her face was now flaming. But Mrs. Lee was pale, and 
she stood rather unsteadily. 

34 



THE DEBTOR 



Arthur Carroll at first looked merely bewildered. 
' ' Aren't the ladies at home ?" said he. " Have you seen 
the ladies ?" He glanced at Mrs. Van Dorn's deflowered 
bonnet, and extended the bunch of violets. " Yours, I 
think," he said. Mrs. Van Dorn took them with an 
idiotic expression, and he asked again if they had seen 
the ladies. 

The spectacle of two elderly, well-dressed females of 
Banbridge quaking before him in this wise, and of their 
sudden appearance in his house, was a mystery too 
great to be grasped at once even by a clever man, 
and he was certainly a clever man. So he stared for 
a second, while the two remained standing before 
him, holding their card -cases in their shaking, white- 
gloved fingers, and Mrs. Van Dorn with the vio- 
lets; then suddenly an expression of the most de- 
lighted comprehension and amusement overspread his 
face. 

"Oh," he said, politely, with a great flourish, as it 
were of deference, "the ladies are not in. They will 
be exceedingly sorry to have missed your call. But 
will you not come in and sit down?" 

Mrs. Van Dorn gained voice enough to gasp that she 
thought they must go. Captain Carroll stood back, 
and the two women, pressing closely together, tottered 
through the hall towards the front door. 

Captain Carroll followed, beaming with delighted 
malice. "I hope you will call again, when the ladies 
are home," he said to Mrs. Van Dorn, whom he recog- 
nized as the leader. 

She made an inarticulate attempt at "Thank you." 
She was making for the door, like a scared hare to the 
entrance of its cover. 

"But I have not your names, ladies, that I may in- 
form Mrs. Carroll who has called?" said Captain Carroll, 
in his stingingly polite voice. 

35 



THE DEBTOR 



Both women looked over their shrinking shoulders at 
him at that. Suddenly the hideous consequences of it 
all, the afterclap, sounded in their ears. That was the 
end of their fair fame in Banbridge, in their world. Life 
for them was over. Their faces, good, motherly, elderly 
village faces, after all, were pitiful; the shame in them 
was a shame to see, so ignominious was it. They stood 
convicted of such a mean fault, that the shame was the 
meaner also. 

Suddenly Mr. Carroll's face changed. It became 
broadly comprehensive, so generously lenient that it 
was fairly grand. A certain gentleness also was evident, 
his voice was kind. 

" Never mind, ladies," said Arthur Carroll. "There 
is really very little use in your telling me your names, 
because my memory is so bad. I remember neither 
names nor faces. If I should meet you on the street, 
and should fail to recognize you on that account, I 
trust that you will pardon me. And — " said Captain 
Carroll, "on that account, I will not say anything about 
your call to the ladies of my family; I should be 
sure to get it all wrong. We will wait, and trust that 
you will find them at home the next time you call. 
Good- afternoon, ladies." Captain Carroll had further 
mercy. He allowed the ladies to leave the house 
unattended and to dive desperately into the waiting 
coach. 

"Home at once," Mrs. Van Dorn cried, hoarsely, to 
Samson Rawdy, waking from his nap in some bewilder- 
ment. 

Captain Carroll was standing on the porch with a 
compound look of kindest pity and mirth on his face 
when the Carroll ladies came strolling round that way 
from the pond. He kissed them all, as was his wont; 
then he laughed out inconsequently. 

"What are you laughing at, dear?" asked Amy. 

36 



THE DEBTOR 



"At my thoughts, sweetheart/ ' 

"What are your thoughts, daddy ?" asked Charlotte. 

"Thoughts I shall never tell anybody, honey," he 
replied, with another laugh. And Captain Arthur Car- 
roll never did tell. 



CHAPTER III 



History often repeats itself where one would least 
expect it, and the world-old tide of human nature has a 
way of finding world-old channels. Therefore it hap- 
pened in Banbridge, as in ancient times, that there was 
a learned barber, or perhaps, to be more strictly accurate, 
a barber who thought that he was learned. He would 
have been entirely ready, had his customers coincided 
with his views, to have given his striped pole its old sig- 
nification of the ribbon bandage which bound the arm 
of a patient after bleeding, and added surgery to his 
hair-cutting and his beard-shaving. John Flynn had 
the courage of utter conviction as to his own ability to 
master all undertakings at which he chose to tilt. An 
aspiration once conceived, he never parted with, but 
held to it as a part of his life. Non-realization made 
not the slightest difference. His sense of time as a 
portion of eternity never left him, and therefore his 
patience under tardy fulfilment of his desires never 
faltered. Some ten years before, he decided that he 
would at some earlier or later date become mayor of 
Banbridge, and his decision was still impregnable. 
After every new election of another candidate, he begged 
his patrons for their votes another time, and was not in 
the least disturbed nor daunted that they had failed 
in their former promises. Flynn's good-nature was as 
unfaltering as his self-esteem, perhaps because of his self- 
esteem. He only smiled with fatuous superiority when 
from time to time, after the elections, his patrons would 

38 



THE DEBTOR 



chaff him about his failure to secure the mayoralty. 
They did so with more effect since there were always 
among the horse-players on such occasions a few who 
would cast votes for the barber, esteeming it as a choice 
and perennial joke, and his reading his name among the 
unsuccessful candidates served to foster his delusion 
and keep Flynn's ambition alive. 

One Sunday, shortly after the Carrolls had moved 
to Banbridge, John Flynn was shaving Jacob Rosen- 
stein, who kept the principal dry-goods store of the 
village, and a number of men were sitting and lounging 
about, waiting their turns. Flynn's shop was on the 
main street in the centre of the business district — his 
shop, or his "Tonsorial* Parlor," as his sign had it. It 
was quite an ornate establishment. There was a lace 
lambrequin in the show-window, a palm in each corner, 
between which stood a tank of gold-fish, and below the 
lace lambrequin swung a gilt cage containing an inces- 
santly hopping, though silent, yellow canary. 

Flynn was intensely proud and fond of the establish- 
ment, and was insulted if it was alluded to as a barber- 
shop. He himself never even thought of it, much less 
spoke of it, as such. ''Well, I must be going to the 
'Parlor,'" he would say when setting out to business. 
He was unmarried, and lived in a boarding-house. 

As Flynn shaved Rosenstein, who was naturally 
speechless, his landlady's husband, Billy Amidon, was 
talking a good deal. Amidon was always shaved for 
nothing, in consideration of the fact that his wife sup- 
ported him with board money, and the barber had an 
undefined conviction that it was mean to take it back 
after he had just paid it. Amidon was a notorious 
talker, and was called a very "dry sort of man," which, 
in the village vernacular, signified that he was esteemed 
a wit. 

"Well," he said to another man, who was leaning 
39 



THE DEBTOR 



with a relaxation of all his muscles against the little 
strip of counter, which contained a modest assortment 
of hair-oils and shaving-brushes and soaps which no- 
body was ever seen to buy — "well, John has lost ten 
pounds since the election, Tappan." 

Tappan ran a milk -route between Banbridge and 
Ardmoor, a little farming-place six miles out. Tappan 
was an Ardmoor man. His milk- wagon stood in front 
of the "Tonsorial Parlor." He had had a drink of beer 
at Frank Steinbach's saloon next door, and now was 
waiting for his Sunday shave before going home. His 
milk-peddling was over for the day. He was a hard- 
working-man, and had been on the road since four o'clock. 
He had a heavy look about his eyes, and he greeted 
Amidon's facetiousness with a weary and surly hitch. 

"Has he?" he replied, indifferently. 

But a very young, very small man, sitting in one of 
the " Parlor" arm-chairs, laughed like a child, with in- 
tense enjoyment. "Yep," he said, "I've noticed that. 
As much as ten pounds has went since election, sure." 

"Shet up," replied Flynn, carefully scraping his pa- 
tron's face. He said "Shet up" with an expression of 
foolish pride. The postmaster of Banbridge, who was 
sitting somewhat aloof and held himself with a con- 
straint of exclusiveness (he was new to his office an*! 
had not yet lost the taste of its dignity), laughed. 

"Let me see, how many votes did you have this year, 
John?" he asked, condescendingly. 

"Five," replied John, with open exultation. 

"Now, John, why didn't you get more than that, 
I'd like to know?" 

Flynn laughed knowingly. "Oh," he said, "it's the 
old story — not money enough." 

"But a lot promised they'd vote for you, didn't 
they, John?" persisted the postmaster, Sigsbee Ray, 
with a wink of humorous confidence at the others. 

40 



THE DEBTOR 



' 'Yep, but damme, who expects anybody to keep an 
election promise if he ain't paid for it ? I ain't unrea- 
sonable. What's elections for? You wait." 

" Haven't you given up yet, John?" 

"Well, I guess not. You wait." 

"Say, John," interposed Amidon, "how much did 
you pay them five what voted for you this year, hey?" 

Flynn looked up from Rosenstein's belathered face 
with a burst of simple triumph. "I didn't pay any of 
them a penny," said he. "There is damn fools every- 
where, and you wait," said he, "an' see ef there ain't 
more come to light next time. I'll fetch it yet, along of 
the fools, an' ef I can raise a leetle money, an' I begin 
to see my way clear to that." 

"How's that?" John was asked by the small young 
man. 

"I'm layin' low 'bout that," replied John, mysteri- 
ously. 

"Now, John," said the postmaster, "you wouldn't 
lay low if there was a good chance to make some money, 
and not give us poor devils a chance?" 

The postmaster spoke consciously. He expected what 
came, the buzz of remonstrance at his classing himself 
in his new office with poor devils. 

"You'd better talk about poor devils," growled the 
milkman, Tappan. "You'd better talk. Huh! here 
you be, don't hev to git to work till eight o'clock, an' 
quittin' at eight nights, and fifteen hundred a year. 
You'd better talk, Mr. Ray. If you was a man gittin' 
up at three of a winter's mornin', and settin' out with a 
milk-route at four, an' makin' 'bout half a penny a quart, 
an' cussed at that 'cause it ain't all cream — if you was 
as dead tired as I be this minute you might talk." 

"Well, I'm willing to allow that I am not as hard 
pushed as you are," said the postmaster, with magnani- 
mous humility. 

41 



THE DEBTOR 



"You'd better. Poor devils, huh! I guess I know 
what poor devils be, and the hell they're in. Bet your 
life I do. Huh!" 

"I'm a poor devil 'nough myself, when it comes to 
that," said Amidon, "but I reckon you kin speak for 
yourself when it comes to talkin' about bein' in hell, 
Tappan. Fur's I'm concerned, I'm findin' this a purty 
comfertable sort of place." 

Amidon was a tall man, and he stretched his length 
luxuriously as he spoke. Tappan eyed him malignantly. 
He was not a pleasant-tempered man, and now he was 
both weary and impatient of waiting for his turn with 
the barber. 

"I should think any man might be comfortable, ef 
he had a wife takin' boarders to support him, but mebbe 
if she was to be asked to tell the truth, she'd tell a differ- 
ent story," he said. Tappan spoke in a tone of facetious 
rage, and the others laughed, all except the barber. 
He had a curious respect for his landlady's husband. 

"Ef a lady has the undisposition to let her husband 
subside on her bounty, it is between them twain. Who 
God has joined together, let no man set asunder," said 
he, bombastically, and even the surly milkman, and 
Rosenstein under his manipulating razor, when a laugh 
was dangerous, laughed. John Flynn, when he waxed 
didactic, and made use of large words and phrases, was 
the comic column of Banbridge. 

Amidon, thus defended, chuckled also, albeit rather 
foolishly, and slouched to the door. "Guess I'll drop 
up and git the Sunday paper. I'll be in later on, John," 
he mumbled. He had the grace to be somewhat 
ashamed both by the attack and by the defence, and 
was for edging out, but stopped on the threshold of 
the door, arrested by something which the small man 
said. 

"Talkin' about poor devils, there's one man in Ban- 

42 



THE DEBTOR 



bridge ain't no poor devil. S'pose you know we've got 
a J. P. Morgan right amongst us?" 

"Who?" asked the postmaster; and Amidon, directly 
now the conversation was thoroughly shifted from him- 
self, returned to his former place. 

" I know who he means," said he, importantly. " Oh, 
it's the man what's rented the Ranger place. They say 
he's a millionaire." 

The milkman straightened himself interestedly. "I 
rather guess he is," said he. "They take two quarts 
of cream every morning, and three quarts of milk." 

"Lord!" said the barber, gaping over his patron's 
head. "Lord!" 

Although very short and slight, the barber had a 
large face, simple, amiable with a smirk of conceit as to 
the lower part ; his forehead was very large and round, 
as was his head, and his blue eyes were very placid, even 
beautiful. The barber never laughed. 

"Two quarts of cream!" said the small man. " Whew!" 

" He must be rich if he takes all that cream," said the 
postmaster. "A half a pint a day about breaks me, 
but my wife must have it for her coffee." 

Rosenstein had so far got his freedom of speech, for 
the barber had never ceased operation to speak, though 
rather guardedly. "He must be rich," he said. "Any 
man in Banb ridge that buys as much as he does from a 
store in the place, an' wants his bills regular every Sat- 
urday night, has got somethin'." 

"Has he paid 'em?" asked the postmaster. 

"All except the last one, an' that he didn't pay be- 
cause I couldn't cash a check for five hundred and give 
him the balance. 'Lord, sir,' says I, 'ef you want a 
check of that value cashed, you'll have to go to John 
Wanamaker. That's as much as I take in Banbridge 
in a whole year.' 'Well, mebbe you'll do better this 
year,' says he, laughing, and goes out. He's a fine- 

43 



THE DEBTOR 



spoken man, an' it ^as a lucky day for Banbridge when 
he come here." 

"He don't buy many postage-stamps," said the post- 
master, thoughtfully, "but he asked me if I should be 
able to let him have as much as ten dollars' worth at a 
time, ef he wanted 'em, an' I said I should, an' I've just 
ordered in more. An' he has a big mail." 

The barber had been opening his mouth and catching 
his breath preparatory to speaking and saying more 
than any of them. Now he spoke: "That man's wuth 
a mighty lot of money now," said he, "but what he's 
wuth now ain't nothin' to what he's goin' to be wuth 
some day." 

"What do you mean, John?" asked Amidon, patron- 
izingly. 

"Well, now, I'll tell you what I mean. That man, 
it's Cap. Carroll what's just arraigned to Banbridge 
that you're all talkin' about, ain't it?" 

"Yes. Go ahead." 

"Well, now, Cap. Carroll is agoin' to be one of them 
great clapatalists, ef he ain't now," he said. 
"How?" 

"Well, he got holt of some stock that's goin' to bust 
the market and turn Wall Street into a mill-stream in 
less than a year, ef it keeps on as it has went so fur." 

"What is it?" asked the small man. 

The milkman sighed wearily. " Oh, slow up yer jaw, 
and gimme a chance sometime," he growled. "I want 
to git home an' git my breakfast. I'm hungry." 

Flynn began hurriedly finishing off Rosenstein, talking 
with no less eagerness as he did so. "Well, it's Bona- 
flora mining-stock, ef you want to know," he said, im- 
portantly. 

"Where is it?" asked the postmaster, with a peculiar 
smile. 

"Out West somewhere. It ain't but fifty cents a 

44 



THE DEBTOR 



share, an' it's goin' up like a skyrocket, an* there's 
others. There's a new railroad out there, an' other 
mines, an' a new invention for makin' fuel out of coal- 
dust, an' some other things." 

"Is Captain Carroll the president of them?" asked 
the small man, with an impressed air. He was very- 
young, and eager-looking, and very shabby. He grubbed 
on a tiny ancestral farm, for a living for himself and 
wife and four children, young as he was. He had 
never had enough to eat, at least of proper food. He 
did not come to the " Tonsorial Parlor" to be shaved, 
for he hacked away at his innocent cheeks at home with 
his deceased father's old razor, but he loved a little 
gossip. In fact, John Flynn's barber -shop was his 
one dissipation. Sometimes he looked longingly at a 
beer -saloon, but he had no money, unless he starved 
Minna and the children, and for that he was too 
good and too timid. His Minna was a stout German 
girl, twice his size, and she ruled him with a rod of 
iron. She did not approve of the barber -shop, and 
so the pleasure had something of the zest of a for- 
bidden one. 

Every Sunday he was at his wit's end, which was 
easily reached, to invent a suitable excuse for his ab- 
sence. To-day it had been to see if Mrs. Amidon did 
not want to buy some apples. Some of their last win- 
ter's store had been miraculously preserved, and Minna 
saw the way to a few pennies thereby. He could quite 
openly say that he had been to the barber-shop to-day, 
having seen Amidon there, therefore he was quite easy 
in his mind, and leaned back in his chair with perfect 
content. One of the children at home cried all the 
time. A yawning mouth of wrath at existence was 
about all he ever saw of that particular baby, and Minna 
almost always scolded, and this was a haven of peace 
to little Willy Eddy. 

45 



THE DEBTOR 



Here he felt like a man among men; at home he felt 
like nothing at all among women. The children were all 
girls. Sometimes he wondered if a boy-baby might 
not have been a refuge. He was not very clean; his 
hands were still stained with picking over potatoes the 
day before; his shoulders in their rusty coat had a dis- 
tinct hunch ; but he was radiantly happy talking of the 
rich Captain Carroll. He seemed to taste the honey 
of the other man's riches and importance in his own 
mouth. Willy Eddy did not know the meaning of envy. 
He had such a fund of sympathetic imagination that he 
possessed the fair possessions of others like a child with 
fairy tales. 

" Is he president of all of them?" asked little Willy 
Eddy, with gusto, and looked as if he himself held them 
all in his meagre potato-stained hands. 

"No," replied the barber, with importance — "no, 
he's more than a president. A president is nothin' 
except a figger-head. I don't care what he's president 
of, whether it is of this great country or of railroads or 
what not. They could git along without the president, 
but they can't without this gentleman. He's the pro- 
moter." 

"Oh!" said the small man. 

The milkman sighed wrathfully again. "Oh, hang 
it all!" he said. "I've seed promoters. It's mostly 
their own pockets they promote." 

"Well, I don't know," said the postmaster, as one with 
authority. " I don't know. Captain Carroll was in the 
office the other day, and we had a little talk, and it struck 
me that some of the ventures he is interested in were 
quite promising. And it is different with a man of his 
wealth. When a poor man takes up anything of the 
kind, you can suspect, but this is different. He said to 
me that he had no occasion, so far as the money was 
concerned, to turn his finger over for any of them or to 

46 



THE DEBTOR 



open his mouth concerning them. He said he would not 
be afraid to stake every dollar he had in the world on 
them if it was necessary." 

Flynn had daintily anointed Rosenstein's shaven face 
with witch-hazel and was now dusting it with powder. 
Tappan was slouching towards the chair. 

"Have you bought some of the stock?" the barber 
asked, abruptly, of the postmaster, who smiled mysteri- 
ously and hedged. 

"Well, maybe I have, and maybe again I haven't," 
said he. "Have you, John?" 

"Not yet," replied the barber. " I am deflecting upon 
the matter. It requires considerable loggitation when a 
man has penuriously saved a circumscribed sum from 
the sweat of his brow." 

"That's so. Don't be rash, John," said Amidon. 

It was not especially funny, but since Amidon in- 
tended it to be, they all obligingly laughed, except 
Tappan, who set himself with a grunt in the chair and 
had the white sheet of which Rosenstein had been 
denuded tied around his neck. 

Rosenstein, who was a lean man, with a much-lined 
face, cast a glance at himself in the looking-glass, 
and heaved an odd sigh as he turned away to get his 
hat. 

"You don't seem to be much stuck on your looks, old 
man," remarked Amidon. 

Rosenstein cast a perfectly good-humored but rather 
melancholy look at Amidon. "No; I never was," he 
replied, soberly. "Can't remember when I wouldn't 
have preferred to meet some other fellow in the looking- 
glass. It's such an awful thing, the intimacy with 
himself that's forced on a man when he comes into this 
world." 

"That's so," assented Amidon, rather stupidly, but 
he was not to be abashed with the other man's meta- 

47 



THE DEBTOR 

physics. Rosenstein did credit to his German ancestry 
at times, and was then in deep waters for his village ac- 
quaintances. 

"Who would you ruther meet in the lookin' - glass 
than yerself ?" pursued Amidon. 

"Not you," replied Rosenstein, with unexpected 
repartee, and was going out amid a chorus of glee at 
Amidon's discomfiture when another man darkened the 
doorway, and the storekeeper fell back as Captain Car- 
roll entered amid a sullen silence. 

The postmaster rose, and in a second the small man 
and Amidon followed his example. Carroll greeted 
them all with a cordiality which had in it a certain impli- 
cation of admiring confidence. Not a man there but 
felt at once that this new-comer had a most flattering 
recognition of himself in particular, to the exclusion of 
all the others. It was odd how he contrived to pro- 
duce this impression, but produce it he did. It was 
Arthur Carroll's great charm, the great secret of a re- 
markable influence over his fellow-men. He appealed 
with consummate skill to the selfish side of every one 
with whom he came in contact, he exalted him in his 
own eyes far above the masses with whom he was sur- 
rounded, by who could tell what subtle alchemy. Each 
man preened unconsciously his panoply of spiritual 
pride under this other man's gentle, courteous eyes. 
Even Rosenstein straightened himself. And besides, 
this was the respectful admiration which the man him- 
self excited, by reason of his fine appearance and ad- 
dress, his good looks, his irreproachable clothes, and his 
reputed wealth. 

Arthur Carroll made an entrance into the " Tonsorial 
Parlor." Moreover, the other men could see out in front 
of the establishment, the coach, the coachman in livery 
— the first livery on record as actually resident in 
Banbridge; liveries had passed through, but never be- 

48 



THE DEBTOR 



fore tarried — the fretting steeds with their glittering 
equipment. Around the coach had already gathered 
several small boys, huddled together, and transfixed 
with awe too deep for impudence. 

Carroll, having greeted the men, said good-morning 
urbanely to the barber, who had ceased lathering Tap- 
pan and was looking at him indeterminately. It seemed 
dreadful to him that this great man should have to 
wait for the milkman. The barber was a conservative 
to the core, and would speak of the laboring - classes 
and tradesmen as if he himself were on the other side 
of the highway from birth. Tappan himself, who, as 
said before, was naturally surly, was also a dissenter 
on principle, and had an enlarged sense of injury, had 
qualms at keeping waiting a man who patronized him 
to the extent of two quarts of cream and three quarts 
of milk daily. It was like quarrelling with his bread- 
and-butter, as he put it, when alluding to the affair 
later on. 

"I ain't goin' through the world seein' no men as is 
better 'n I be," he said, "but there's jest this much 
about it, I ain't a fool, an' I know enough to open the 
door when a man wants to walk through to pay me 
some money. Ef Carroll hadn't been takin' that much 
cream and milk, I'd set there in that barber's-chair ef 
I'd had a year's beard to shave, an' I'd kept him waitin', 
and enjoyed it, but, as it was, I did what I did." 

What Tappan did was to wave back Flynn's lathering- 
hand, and to say, rather splutteringly, that he would 
wait, "ef Captain Carroll was in a hurry." 

But Captain Carroll was in no hurry, it seemed, and, 
moreover, gave the impression that if he had been 
about to catch a railroad train to keep an important 
business engagement, he would not have dreamed of 
thrusting himself in before the milkman with his milk 
all delivered. He, moreover, gave the impression that 

49 



THE DEBTOR 

he considered the milkman a polished gentleman for 
his handsome offer, and all this without saying so much. 
Captain Carroll seated himself, and completed the im- 
pression by tendering everybody cigars. Then the 
" Tonsorial Parlor" and its patrons waiting for a Sunday- 
morning shave became a truly genteel function. Willy 
Eddy, who was dreamily imaginative, and read the 
Sunday papers when his Minna gave him a chance and 
did not chide him for the waste of money, remembered 
things he had read about the swagger New York clubs. 
He smoked away and made-believe he was a clubman, 
and enjoyed himself artlessly. The sun got farther 
around and the south window was a sheet of burning 
radiance. It became rather too warm, and on Carroll 
making a motion to move his chair into the shade, every 
other man moved into the sunshine, and sat sweltering 
and smoking in a fatuous vainglory. The canary bird 
hopped faster and faster. The gold-fishes swam with a 
larger school of bright reflections. A bumblebee flew 
in the open window and buzzed dangerously near the 
hero's head. Willy Eddy rose and, ostentatiously, at 
his own risk, drove the intruder away, and was gratefully 
thanked. Truly hero-worship, while it is often foolish 
and fool-making, is not the worst sentiment of mankind. 
When the great man made a move to order his coach- 
man to take the wonderful rig away, and drive, because 
the horses were restive and needed exercise, and he 
himself — the delicate humor of the thing — also needed 
exercise and would walk home, Amidon sped in his ser- 
vice as he had never sped in the service of the long- 
suffering wife, at that moment struggling painfully with 
the Sunday dinner, and bringing wood from the shed to 
replenish the fire. 

Carroll did not need to lead up' to his mining and 
other interests. The subject was broached at once 
by the others. The jjostmaster opened it. He spoke 

5° 



THE DEBTOR 



with less humility than the others, as being more on a 
footing of equality. 

"Well, captain, heard anything lately from the 
Boniflora?" he asked, knowingly. And Carroll replied 
that he had received a letter from the manager the 
night before which gave most encouraging information 
concerning the prospects. 

"Anything of the United Fuel?" continued the post- 
master. 

" Large block just sold, at an advance of six and three- 
eighths," replied Carroll, blowing the smoke from his 
mouth. Carroll inspired confidence by the very quiet- 
ness and lack of enthusiasm with which he spoke of his 
enterprises. All his listeners thought privately that he 
was in no way anxious to sell his stock, after all. Per- 
haps, moreover, he did not intend to sell any but large 
blocks. Little Willy Eddy ventured to ask for infor- 
mation on the latter point. 

"Mebbe you don't keer nothin' about sellin' of it 
unless it is in big lumps?" he queried, timidly. He was 
thinking of a matter of $250 which his father had saved 
from pension-money, and was still in the savings-bank. 
Carroll replied (but with the greatest indifference) 
that they often sold stock in very small blocks, and the 
confidence of them waxed apace, Amidon thought of a 
little money which his wife had saved from her boarders, 
and the barber immediately resolved to invest every 
cent he had in the United Fuel. Such was Captain 
Carroll's graciousness and urbanity that he idled away 
an hour in the barber-shop, and the other men melted 
away, although reluctantly, from an atmosphere of such 
effulgence. The milkman's hollow stomach drove him 
home for his breakfast. Little Willy Eddy thought 
uneasily of his Minna, and took his departure. The 
postmaster had a Sunday mail to sort. And Amidon 
went out to get a drink of beer; Carroll's cigar had 

5i 



THE DEBTOR 



dried his throat. Carroll was shaven last, and Flynn 
did his best by him, even unto a new jar of cold cream, 
double the quantity of witch-hazel, and a waste of pow- 
der. Then after he had carefully adjusted his hat, and 
was at last about to go, Flynn stopped him. 

"Beg your pardon, sir/' said he, "but — " 

"But what?" said Carroll, rather kindly. 

The barber's lip was actually quivering. The mag- 
nitude and importance of. what he was about to propose 
almost affected his weakly emotional nature to tears. 

He finally made out to say, while tears were actually 
rolling down his cheeks under Carroll's puzzled regard, 
that he had $1000 which he had saved, and he would 
like to invest every penny of it in United Fuel. And 
before Carroll knew what he was at, he had actually 
produced $1000 in a bulky roll of much-befingered notes, 
from some hiding-place, and was waving them before 
Carroll's eyes. 

"Here," said he, "here is the money. You may as 
well take it now. You can get the securities in New 
York to-morrow, and bring them out on the train. 
Here is the money. Take it." 

Arthur Carroll did not move to take the money. He 
stood looking at the excited man with a curious ex- 
pression. In fact, his face seemed to reflect the emo- 
tion of the barber's. His voice was a trifle husky. 

"Is that all you have saved?" he asked. 

" Every dollar," replied the barber, continuing to wave 
and thrust the bills, but he raised an edge of his apron 
to his eyes, overflowing with the stupendousness of it. 
"Every dollar. I might have saved more, but I've 
been laid up winters considerable with grippe, and folks 
don't like to be shaved by a grippy barber. Dunno's I 
blame 'em. I've had to hire, and hirin' comes high. 
I've had considerable to do for a widder with four chil- 
dren, too — she's my brother's widder — an', take it all 

5 2 



THE DEBTOR 



together, I 'ain't been able to save another dollar. But 
that don't make no odds, as long as I'm going to double 
it in that stock of yourn. Take it." 

Carroll backed away almost sternly. "I don't want 
your money," he said. 

The barber stood aghast. Captain Carroll had actu- 
ally a look of offence. 

"I hope as I hain't done nothin' that ain't reg'lar," 
he stammered. 

Captain Carroll stepped close to him. He laid one 
white long-fingered hand on the barber's white jacket- 
sleeve. He whispered with slyest confidence, although 
no one was within hearing : 

"You keep that money a little while longer," he 
whispered. " I wouldn't say it to every man, but I will 
to you. There's going to be a lawsuit, and the stock 
may drop a point or two. It won't drop much, and it 
will recover more than it loses, but then is the time to 
buy, especially when you want a big block, and — I'll let 
you know." 

"Thank you, thank you," said the barber, restoring 
the bills to a greasy old pocket-book. He was faint 
with gratitude. "All right," he said, and he nodded 
and winked with intensest comprehension. "All right. 
You let me know." 

"Yes, I'll let you know when it is best to invest," 
repeated Carroll. He turned on the threshold. "See 
here," he said, "if I were you, I'd put that money in a 
bank. I wouldn't keep it here.*' 

"Oh, nobody knows it's here, except you, and you 
are safe, I ruther guess." 

The barber laughed like a child. Carroll went out 
and passed up the street. He heard from the Episcopal 
church the sound of singing. Finally he left it behind. 
He was passing along a short extent where there were no 
houses. On one side there was a waste tract of land, 

53 



THE DEBTOR 



and on the other a stretch of private grounds. The 
private grounds were bordered by a budding hedge, the 
waste lot bristled with strong young weeds. Carroll, 
as he swung along with his stately carriage of the head 
and shoulders, took out his pocket-book. It was an 
important-looking affair, the size of bank-notes. He 
opened it. There was not a vestige of money within. 
He laughed a little softly to himself, and replaced it. 
He lived on a street which diverged at right angles 
from the main street. Just as he was about turning 
the corner, a runabout in which were seated two men 
passed him. It stopped, and the men turned and 
looked back at him. Then before Carroll turned the 
corner, one hailed him: 
"Hullo!" he said. 

"Hullo!" returned Carroll, and stood waiting while 
the man swung his trap round with cautious hisses — he 
drove a high-stepping mare. 

"Are you a man by the name of Carroll?" said he, 
holding the fretting mare tightly, and seesawing the 
lines, as she tried to dart first one way, then the 
other. 

Carroll nodded. 

"Well, look a -here," said the man, "I heerd you 
wanted to buy some hosses." 

"You heard rightly," said Carroll. 

"Wall, I've got a pair that can't be beat. Kentucky 
bred, four-year-old, sound as a whip. Not an out." 

"Are you a trader?" 

"Yep. Hed them hosses in last week. New-Yorker 
jest sent for 'em, then he died sudden, and his heirs 
threw 'em on the market at a sacrifice." 

Carroll looked at the men, and they looked at him. 
The two men in the runabout resembled each other, and 
were evidently brothers. Carroll's eyes on the men 
were sharp, so were theirs on him. Carroll's eyes were 



THE DEBTOR 

looking for knavery, and the men's were looking for 
suspicion of knavery. 

"How much?" asked Carroll, finally. 
- The men looked at each other. One made a motion 
with his lips; the other nodded. 

"Fifteen hundred, " said the first speaker, "and 
damned cheap/ ' 

"Well, you can bring them around, and I'll look at 
them," said Carroll. "Any night after seven." 

Carroll walked on, turning up the road which led to 
his own house, and the men whirled about again and 
then drove on, the mare breaking into a gallop. 

5 



CHAPTER IV 



In Banbridge no one in trade was considered in polite 
society, with one exception. The exception was Ran- 
dolph Anderson. Anderson had studied for the law. 
He had set up his office over the post-office, hung out 
his innocent and appealing little sign, and sat in his 
new office-chair beside his new desk, surrounded by the 
majesty of the lettered law, arranged in shelves in al- 
phabetical order, for several years, during which his 
affairs were constantly on a descending scale. Then 
at last came a year when scarcely one client had dark- 
ened his doors except Tappan, who wanted to sue a 
delinquent customer and attach some of his personal 
property. After ascertaining that the personal prop- 
erty had been cannily transferred to the debtor's wife, 
he had told Anderson, upon the presentation of a modest 
bill, that he was a fraud and he could have done bet- 
ter himself. Beside this backward stroke of business, 
Anderson had that year a will to draw up, for which he 
was never paid, and had married a couple who had re- 
imbursed him in farm produce. At the expiration of 
that year the lawyer, having to all intents and pur- 
poses been given up by the law, gave it up in his turn. 
Every cent of the money which he had inherited from 
his father had been expended. Nothing remained except 
his mother's small property, which barely sufficed to sup- 
port her. Anderson then borrowed money from his uncle, 
who was well-to-do, giving him his note for three years, 
rented a store on Main Street, purchased a stock of 

56 



THE DEBTOR 



groceries, and went into trade. His course made quite 
a sensation. He was the first Anderson in the memory 
of Banbridge, where the name was an old one, to be 
outside the genteel pale of a profession. His father 
had been a physician, his grandfather a clergyman. 

"If my son had studied medicine instead of law, he 
could have at least subsisted upon the proceeds of his 
profession," his mother said, with the gentle and dig- 
nified dissent which was her attitude with regard to her 
son's startling move. "People are simply obliged by 
the laws of the flesh to go through measles and whooping- 
coughs and mumps, and they have to be born and die, 
and when they get in the way of microbes they have to 
be ill and they have to call in a physician, and some few 
of them pay him, so he can manage at least to live. Of 
course law is different. If people haven't any money 
they can forego quarrels, unless they are forced upon 
them. Quarrels are luxuries. It really began to seem 
to me that all the opportunity for a lawyer in Banbridge 
was in the simple line of suing some one for debt, and 
there is always that way, which does seem to me rather 
dishonest, of putting the property out of one's hands." 

There was undoubtedly much truth in what Mrs. 
Sylvia Anderson said. She was a shrewd old woman, 
with such a softly feminine manner that she misled peo- 
ple into thinking the contrary. Banbridge folk rather 
pitied Randolph Anderson for having such a sweetly 
helpless and incapable mother, albeit very pretty and 
very much of a lady. 

Mrs. Anderson was a large woman, but delicately 
articulated, with small hands, and such tiny feet that 
she toppled a little when she walked. Her complexion 
was like a child's, and she fluffed her thick white locks 
over her ears and swathed her throat high in soft laces, 
concealing all the aged lines in face and figure with 
innocent feminine arts. 

57 



THE DEBTOR 



Randolph adored his mother. He had never cared 
for any other woman. He had sat at his mother's little 
feet all his life, although he had at times his own mascu- 
line way, as in the matter of the deserting of his pro- 
fession for trade. He had remained firm, although his 
mother had said much against it. 

" Frankly, I do not approve of it, dear," she said. "I 
agree, but I do not approve. I do not like it, that you 
should desert the trodden path of your forebears. It is 
not so much that I am proud, but I am conservative. 
I believe there is a certain harmony between the man 
and the road his race have travelled. I believe he is a 
very sorry figure on another, especially if it be on a 
lower lev el.' ' 

"I don't think it is a question of level," said Ran- 
dolph. "A road is simply a question of progress." 

"Well, perhaps," said his mother, "but in that case 
the state of things is the same. A grocer would cut a 
sorry figure on your road, even if it ran parallel towards 
the same goal, and a lawyer would cut a sorry figure 
on a grocer's. Frankly, dear, I really doubt if you will 
make a good grocer." 

Randolph laughed. "At least I hope I can earn our 
bread-and-butter," he said. Then he went on seriously. 
"It is just here," he said — "you and I are not sordid. 
Neither of us cares about money for itself, but here we 
are on this earth, with that existence which has its 
money price, and obligations imposed upon us. We 
cannot shirk it. We must live, and in order to live we 
must have a certain amount of money. Now all we 
have in this world for material goods is this old house 
and your little pittance. We have not a cent besides. 
If we were to try living on that, it would not last 
out your lifetime. If it would, I should not combat 
your prejudices, but we could lie on our oars and eat 
up the old place, and later on I would hustle for my- 

58 



THE DEBTOR 



self. But it will not. Now, I have demonstrated that 
I cannot earn anything by my profession. I have 
tried it faithfully and well. Last year I did not earn 
enough to pay my office rent. I never shall in Ban- 
bridge, and there is no sense whatever in my striking 
out in a new place with no prestige and no money. 
You and I simply want enough to live on, enough money 
to buy the wherewithal to keep the flame of life com- 
fortably burning, and I can think of no other way than 
this grocery business. People must eat. You are cer- 
tainly sure of earning something, if you offer people 
something they want. In my profession there is nothing 
that they do want." 

" But your education,'' said his mother. She thought 
of the rows of law-books of whose contents she fondly 
believed her son a master. 

"Oh, that is mine still, " said Randolph, "but other 
people don't want it. There is no use, mother, in 
evading the question. We live in an age of market 
values. We must consider them. Butter and cheese 
have a sure market value, and the knowledge of the 
law in my head has not. Nobody wants it enough 
to pay anything for it, to give us a moneyed equiv- 
alent wherewith we may buy the things we need. 
Therefore, if nobody wants that, we must offer them 
something else. When it comes to the rights of our 
fellow-men to spend their own money as they choose, 
that is inalienable. It is about the most firmly estab- 
lished right in the country. No; people cannot be 
coerced into buying my little store of knowledge, 
therefore I will try them with my little store of butter 
and cheese and eggs and molasses." 

Randolph Anderson laughed. Aside from regard 
for his mother's feelings, he had not the slightest scruple 
against his business venture. On the contrary, it 
rather amused him. He must have had a latent taste 

59 



THE DEBTOR 



for business, for he quite enjoyed studying the mar- 
kets and purchasing his stock in trade. He purchased 
wisely, too. He offered a choice stock of goods, or, 
rather, his two salesmen did. He himself did not sell 
much over his own counters, except in the case of a 
great rush of business. But it was not from the least 
sensation of superiority. It was merely because of a 
distrust of his own ability to acquit himself well in such 
a totally different branch of industry. Anderson was 
cast on unusually simple and ingenuous lines. Nobody 
would have believed it, but he was actually somewhat 
modest and shy before his own clerks, and realized sen- 
sitively his own lack of experience. So he had a way 
of subsiding when customers appeared, and retreating 
to his office in the rear of the building. He spent most 
of his time in this office. It was a very pleasant one, 
overlooking the river, on which steamboats and canal- 
boats travelled to the city. From Anderson's office 
the bank of red clay soil sloped to the water's edge. 
He could see the gleam of the current through the 
shag of young trees which found root in the unpromis- 
ing soil. Now and then the tall mast of a sailing-vessel 
glided by, now the smoke-stack of a steamer. Often 
the quiet was broken by the panting breath of a tug. 
Often into his field of vision flapped the wet clothes 
from the line strung along the deck of a canal-boat. 
The canal ran along beside the regular current of the 
river, separated from it by a narrow tow-path. Farther 
down, the great railroad bridge crossed the stream, 
and at all hours he could catch the swift glisten of the 
train-windows as they shot past. 

Anderson's office was about twelve by fourteen, and 
lined with shelves on two sides. On these he had books, 
not law-books. Those he had relegated to the library 
at home. He had probably in *the depths of his con- 
sciousness a sensation of melancholy at the contempla- 

60 



THE DEBTOR 



tion of those reminders of his balked career. No man, 
no matter how gracefully he may yield to it, cares to 
contemplate failures. He had filled these shelves with 
books of which he was fond, for daily reading. They 
were most of them old. He had little money with 
which to purchase new ones. He had been forced to 
rely upon those which his father and grandfather had 
accumulated. There were, however, a few recent and 
quite valuable books which he had acquired since his 
venture in trade, upon entomology, especially books 
upon butterflies. Since his retreat from the law he had 
developed suddenly, perhaps by the force of contrast, 
or the opposite swing of the pendulum, an overwhelming 
taste for those airy flowers of animated life. The two 
walls of the office not occupied with books were hung 
with framed specimens. He had also under the river- 
ward window a little table equipped with the necessary 
paraphernalia for mounting them. Many a sunny day 
in the season he spent in the fields on this gentle hunt. 
There was a broad sill to the window, and upon it stood 
a box filled with green plants. When the season was 
enough advanced and the window always open, the 
trailing vines rooted in the box hung far down outside, 
and the women on the passing canal-boats looked up 
at them. The window-ledge was wide enough, more- 
over, for an old red cushion upon which slept in the 
sun when he was not afield for love or war or prey, a 
great cat striped like a tiger, with fierce green eyes, and 
a mighty purr of comfort, and a rounding back of affec- 
tion for Anderson's legs when he talked to him. 

Anderson had two comfortable old chairs in his 
office, and a goodly assortment of pipes, for he was a 
great smoker. He made tobacco a part of his grocery 
business, and had a strong sense of comfort in reflecting 
upon the unlimited supply. He had' been forced, in the 
last days of his law-practice, to stint himself even in 

61 



THE DEBTOR 



this creature comfort. On the whole, he was much 
happier when fairly established in trade than he had 
ever been before. He was so absorbed in his business 
(all the details of which he mastered), in his books, and 
his butterflies, that he saw very little of the people, and 
knew very little of what was going on in Banbridge, 
except through his mother. Mrs. Anderson, in spite 
of her years, and a certain lack of strength which had 
always hampered her, was quite prominent in Banbridge 
society. She was one of the old women whom young 
girls adore, even when the adoration is not increased by 
the existence of a marriageable son. Sometimes the old 
lady would regard an unmarried female - caller with a 
soft suspicion of ulterior motives, but she never whis- 
pered them to her son. Sylvia Anderson had a lovely, 
fine delicacy where the foibles of her own sex were con- 
cerned. She was so essentially feminine herself that 
she was never quite rid of her maiden sense of aliena- 
tion even with her son. She would have been much 
happier with a daughter, although she was very fond 
of her son. 

One afternoon in May, a short time after Mrs. Van 
Dorn and Mrs. Lee had made their circuit of calls which 
had included her, some other ladies were making the 
rounds in the calling-coach, which drew up before her 
door. There were three ladies, two of them unmar- 
ried. They were an elder aunt, her young unmarried 
niece, and a married lady who had been the girl friend 
of the aunt. They made a long call, and Mrs. Ander- 
son entertained them with tea in her pink - and - gold 
china cups, with cream in the little family silver cream- 
jug, and with slices of pound-cake. It was an old 
custom of Mrs. Anderson's which she had copied all 
through her married life from Madam Anderson, Ran- 
dolph's grandmother, the widow of old Dr. Anderson, 
the clergyman. 

62 



THE DEBTOR 



" I always make it a custom, my dear, to keep pound- 
cake on hand, and have some of the best green tea in 
the caddy, and then when callers come of an afternoon 
I can offer them some refreshment/' she had said when 
her son's wife first came to live with her. So Mrs. 
Anderson had antedated the modern fashion in Ban- 
bridge, but she did not keep a little, ornate tea-table 
in her parlor. The cake and tea were brought in by the 
one maid on a tray covered with a polka-dotted damask. 

This afternoon the callers had their cake and tea, 
and lingered long afterwards. Now and then Mrs. 
Anderson glanced imperceptibly at the window, thinking 
her son might pass. She regarded the unmarried aunt 
and the young niece with asides of reflection even while 
she talked to them. The niece was not pretty, but her 
bloom of youth under the roses of her spring hat was 
ravishing. The aunt had never been pretty; and, 
moreover, her bloom had gone, but she was well dressed, 
and her thin figure was full of grace. She sat in her 
chair with delicate erectness, the folds of her gray 
gown was disposed over her supple length of limb with 
charming effect. She also had a sort of eager, almost 
appealing amiability. It was as if she said: 

"Yes, I know I am no longer young. I am not fair 
to see, but indeed I mean well by you. I would do 
much for you. I even love you. Cannot you love me 
for that?" and that was softly compelling. 

Mrs. Anderson reflected that a man might easily 
admire either of these women. Her manner, in spite of 
herself, cooled towards them. She did not think of 
the third woman, who was married, except to ply her 
with cake and tea and inquire for her husband and 
children.. The woman, after she had finished her cake 
and tea, sat sunken in her corsets, under her loosely 
fitting black silk, and looked stupidly amiable. She rose 
with a slight sigh of relief when at last the others made 

63 



THE DEBTOR 



a motion to go. She thought of her supper at home, 
and the children long out of school. It was past supper- 
time for Banbridge. The sun was quite low. An hour 
ago a little herd of cows had pelted by in a cloud of dust, 
with great udders swinging perilously, going home to be 
milked. 

4 4 That Flannigan boy always runs those cows home," 
said the aunt, disapprovingly, as she passed the window. 

"I have always heard it was bad for the milk/' as- 
sented Mrs. Anderson. 

Now that her callers were on the move, Mrs. Anderson 
was exceedingly cordial. She said something further 
about the quality of the cream obtained from the cows, 
and the aunt said yes, it was very good, although so 
dear. The old lady kissed both the aunt and the niece 
when they at last went out of the door, and said she 
was so glad that she was at home, and begged them to 
come again. She stood in the door watching them get 
into the coach. The young girl's face in the window, 
with her beflowered hat, a rose crowned with roses, in 
the dark setting of the window, was beautiful. Even 
the aunt's face, older and more colorless, except for an 
unlovely flush of excitement, was pathetically com- 
pelling and charmed. Mrs. Anderson, filling up the 
doorway with her stately bulk, swept around by her 
soft black draperies, her fair old face rising from a foam 
of lace, and delicately capped with lace, on which was a 
knot of palest lavender, stood in a frame of luxuriant 
Virginia-creeper, and smiled and nodded graciously to 
her departing guests, while wondering if they would 
meet her son coming home. After that followed a reflec- 
tion as to the undesirability of either of them as a pos- 
sible daughter-in-law. 

Just as she was turning to eQter the house, after the 
coach had rolled out of sight, she saw her son coming 
down the street under the green shade of the maples 

64 



THE DEBTOR 

which bordered it. The mother went toddling on her tiny- 
feet down the steps to the gate to meet her son. The 
house stood quite close to the road; indeed, only a little 
bricked-path separated it from the sidewalk. All the 
ground was at the sides and back. The house was a 
square old affair with a row of half-windows in the 
third-story, or attic, and considerable good old panel- 
work and ornamentation about it. On the right side 
of the house was a large old flower-garden, now just 
beginning to assert itself anew; on the left were the 
stable and some out-buildings, with a grassy oval of 
lawn in the centre of a sweep of drive ; in the rear was a 
kitchen-garden and a field rising to the railroad, for 
railroads circled all Banbridge in their vises of iron arms. 
A station was only a short distance farther up this same 
street. As Mrs. Anderson stood waiting and her son 
was advancing down the street a train from the city 
rumbled past. When Randolph had come up, and they 
had both entered the house, a carriage passed swiftly 
and both saw it from the parlor window. 

"Do you know who's carriage that is?" asked Mrs. 
Anderson. " It is something new in Banbridge, isn't it ?" 

"It belongs to those new people who have moved 
into the Ranger place," replied Randolph. He wore a 
light business-suit which suited him, and he looked like 
a gentleman, as much so as when he had come from a 
law-office instead of a grocery-store. Indeed, he had 
been much shabbier in the law-office and had not held 
his head so high. In the law-office he had constantly 
been confronted with the possibility of debt. Here he 
was free from it. He had been smoking, as usual, and 
there was about his garments an odor of mingled coffee 
and tobacco. He had been selling coffee, and grinding 
some. One of his two salesmen was ill, and that was 
why he was so late. The new carriage rolled silently 
on its rubber tires along the macadamized road; the 

65 



THE DEBTOR 



high black polish and plate-glass flashed in the sun- 
light, the coachman in livery sat proudly erect and held 
his whip stylishly, the sleek horses pranced, seeming 
scarcely to touch the road with their dainty hoofs. 

" Those are fine horses," said Randolph. 

"Yes," assented his mother. "They must be very 
wealthy people, I suppose." 

"It looks so," replied Randolph. 

His mother, still staring out of the window, started. 
"Why," she said, "the coachman is turning around!" 

"Perhaps he has forgotten something at the station," 
said Randolph. 

"Why, it is stopping here!" cried Mrs. Anderson, won- 
deringly. The carriage indeed stopped just before the 
Anderson gate, and remained there perfectly still. 
The coachman gazed intently at the house, but made 
no motion to get down. At a window was seen a gen- 
tleman's face; past him the fresh face of a girl, also 
gazing. Randolph looked out, and the gentleman in 
the carriage made an imperious beckoning motion. 

"Why, he is beckoning you!" said Mrs. Anderson, 
amazedly and indignantly. 

Anderson moved towards the door. 

"You are not going out when you are beckoned to 
in that way?" cried his mother. 

Anderson laughed. "You forget, mother," he said, 
"that a grocer is at the beck and call of his patrons." 

"I am ashamed of you!" she said, hotly, her fair old 
face flushing, "to have no more pride — " 

Anderson laughed again. "I am too proud to have 
pride," he said, and went out of the room. He went 
leisurely down the steps, and crossed the little brick 
walk to the gate, and then approached the carriage. 
The gentleman inside, with what seemed an unpre- 
meditated movement, raised his hat. Randolph bowed. 
Carroll smiled in the gentle, admiring way which he had. 

66 



THE DEBTOR 



" Perhaps I have made a mistake/' he said, "but I 
was directed here. I was told that Anderson, who 
keeps the grocery, lives here." 

"I am Anderson," replied Randolph, with dignity 
and a certain high scorn, and purposely leaving off the 
Mr. from his name. 

Arthur Carroll no longer smiled, but his voice had a 
certain urbanity, although it rang imperiously. "Now, 
see here," he said. "I want to know why you did not 
do as I left instructions at your shop?" 

"To what do you refer?" inquired Anderson, quietly. 

"I want to know why you did not send in your bill 
last Saturday night, as I ordered." Carroll's voice was 
so loud that Mrs. Anderson, in the house, heard him 
distinctly through the open windows. 

"I did not know that you had so ordered," replied 
Anderson, still quietly, with a slight emphasis on the 
ordered. He looked slightly amused. 

"Well, I did. I told your clerk to be sure to send in 
my bills promptly every Saturday morning. I wish to 
settle weekly." 

"The mistake was doubtless due to the fact that my 
clerk has been at home ill for the last three days," 
said Anderson. "This is the first time I have heard of 
your order." 

"Well," said Carroll, "send it in at once now, and 
don't let it happen again." 

Although the tone was harsh and the words were 
imperious, still they were not insolent. There was even 
an effect of camaraderie about them. At the last he 
flashed a quick smile at Anderson, which Anderson re- 
turned. He was dimly conscious all the time of Char- 
lotte's very pretty face past her father's, peeping around 
his gray shoulder with a large-eyed, rather puzzled 
expression. Carroll nodded slightly after the smile, 
and told the coachman to go on, and the horses 

6 7 



THE DEBTOR 



sprang forward after a delicate toss of their curving 
forelegs. 

Randolph re-entered the house, and his mother, who 
was waiting, faced him with soft indignation. 

" I must say, my son, that I am surprised that you> 
submit to being addressed in such a fashion as that," 
she said, her blue eyes darkening at him. 

Randolph laughed again. " There was no real in- 
solence about it, after all, mother," he replied. 

"It sounded so," said she. 

"That was because you could not see his face," said 
Randolph. "He looked very amiable." 

"He was angry because he did not get his bill Satur- 
day?" said Mrs. Anderson, interrogatively. 

"Yes. He must have given the order to Sam Riggs 
the day before he went home ill, I suppose." 

"He must be a very wealthy man," said Mrs. Ander- 
son. " It is rather good of him to be so anxious to pay 
his bill every week." 

"Yes, it is a very laudable desire," said Randolph. 
" I only hope his ability may equal it." 

His mother looked at him with quick surprise. " Why, 
you surely don't think — " she said. 

"I think nothing. The man is all right, so far as I 
know. He seems a gentleman, and if he is well off he 
is a very desirable acquisition to Banbridge." 

"Who was that with him in the coach?" asked Mrs. 
Anderson. 

"One of his daughters, I should judge. I hear he 
has two." 
"Pretty?" 

"Well, I hardly know. Have you had any callers?" 
"Yes. I suppose you met them. They made a very 
long call." « 
"You mean the Egglestons?" 

"Yes, Miss Josie and little Agnes Eggleston and Mrs. 

68 



THE DEBTOR 



Monroe. They stayed here over an hour. I thought 
you would meet them.'' 

" Yes, I met them just as I turned from Main Street/' 
replied Randolph, soberly, but he was inwardly amused. 
He understood his mother. But there was something 
which he did not tell her concerning his experience with 
the new-comers, the Carrolls. Shortly, she went out to 
give some directions about tea, and Randolph, sitting 
beside a window in the parlor with an evening paper, 
drew from his pocket a letter just received in the mail, 
and examined it again. It was from a city bank, and 
it contained a repudiated check for ten dollars, made 
out by Captain Arthur Carroll, and which Anderson 
had cashed a few days previous at the request of the 
pretty young girl in the carriage, who to-night had sat 
there looking at him and did not speak, either because 
she had forgotten his face as he did her the little favor, 
or because he was so far away from her social scale that 
she was innocently unaware of any necessity for it. 



CHAPTER V 



Randolph Anderson had a large contempt for money 
used otherwise than for its material ends. A dollar 
never meant anything to him except its equivalent in 
the filling of a need. Generosity and the impulse of 
giving were in his blood, yet it had gone hard several 
times with people who had tried to overreach him even 
to a trifling extent. But now he submitted without a 
word to losing ten dollars through cashing Arthur Car- 
roll's worthless check. He himself was rather bewil- 
dered at his tame submission. One thing was certain, 
although it seemed paradoxical; if he had not had sus- 
picions as to Arthur Carroll's perfect trustworthiness, 
he would at once have gone to him with the check. 

" I dare say he overdrew his account without knowing 
it, as many an honest man does," he reasoned, when 
trying to apologize to himself for his unbusiness - like 
conduct, but always he knew subconsciously that if 
he had been perfectly sure of that view of it he would 
not have hesitated to put it to the proof. For some 
reason, probably unconfessed rather than actually 
hidden from himself, he shrank from a possible dis- 
covery to Arthur Carroll's discredit. When a man of 
Randolph Anderson's kind replies to a question concern- 
ing the beauty of a young girl that he does not know, 
the assumption is warranted that he has given the mat- 
ter consideration. A man 'usually leaps to a decision 
of that kind, and if he has no ulterior motive for con- 
cealment, he would as lief proclaim it to the house-tops. 

7o 



THE DEBTOR 



Usually Randolph Anderson would no more have 
hesitated about giving his opinion as to a girl's looks 
than he would have hesitated about giving his candid 
opinion of the weather. For the most part a woman's 
face had about as much effect upon his emotional nature 
as the face of a day. He saw that it was rosy or gray, 
smiling and sunny, or frowning or rainy, then he looked 
unmovedly at the retreating backs of both. It was all 
the same thing. Anderson was a man who dealt most- 
ly with actualities where his emotions were concerned. 
With some, love-dreams grow and develop with their 
growth and development; with some not. The latter 
had been true with Randolph Anderson. Then, too, 
he was scarcely self-centred and egotistical enough for 
genuine air-castles of any kind. To build an air-castle, 
one's own personality must be the central prop and 
pillar, for even anything as unsubstantial as an air- 
castle has its building law. One must rear around 
something, or the structure can never rise above the 
horizon of the future. 

Anderson had stored his mind with the poetic facts of 
the world rather than projected his poetic fancies into the 
facts of the world. He saw things largely as they were, 
with no inflorescence of rainbows where there was none ; 
but there are actual rainbows, and even auroras, so that 
the man who does not dream has compensations and a 
less chance of disillusion. Of course Anderson had 
thought of marriage ; he could scarcely have done other- 
wise; but he had thought of it as an abstract condition 
pertaining to himself only in a general way as it pertains 
to all mankind. He had never seen himself plainly 
enough in his fancy as a lover and husband to have a 
pang of regret or longing. He had been really contented 
as he was. He had a powerful mind, and the exercising 
of that held in restraint the purely physical which might 
have precipitated matters. Some men advance, the 

6 71 



THE DEBTOR 



soul pushing the body with more or less effort; some 
with the soul first, trailing the body ; some in unison, and 
these are they who make the best progress as to the 
real advancement. Anderson moved, on the whole, in 
the last way. He was a very healthy man, mind and 
body, and with rather unusual advantages in point of 
looks. This last he realized in one way but not in an- 
other. He knew it on general principles; he recog- 
nized the fact as he recognized the fact of his hands 
and feet; but what he actually saw in the looking- 
glass was not so much the physical fact of himself as 
the spiritual problem with its two known quantities 
of need and circumstance, and its great unknown third 
which took hold of eternity. Anderson, although not 
in a sense religious, had a religious trend of thought. 
He went every Sunday with his mother to the Presby- 
terian church where his grandfather had preached to 
an earlier generation. 

On the Sunday after his encounter with Arthur 
Carroll with reference to the bill, he went to church as 
usual with his mother. 

Mrs. Anderson was a picture of a Sunday, in a rich 
lavender silk and a magnificent though old-fashioned 
lace shawl which floated from her shoulder in a fairy 
net-work of black roses. She would never wear plain 
black like most women of her age. She was one of 
the blue-eyed women who looks well in lavender. Her 
blue eyes, now looking at her son from under the rich 
purples and lavenders of the velvet pansies on her bon- 
net, got an indeterminate color like myrtle blossoms. 
A deeper pink also showed on her cheeks because of 
the color of her gown. 

" Mother, you are just such a mixture of color as 
that lilac-bush," said her son, irrelevantly, looking from 
her to a great lilac-bush in the corner of the yard they 
were passing. It was tipped with rose on the delicate 

72 



THE DEBTOR 



ends of its blooming racemes, which shaded to blue at 
the bases. 

''Did you see those new people in church to-day?" 
said she. 

"Yes, I think I did," replied Randolph. "They sat 
just in front of the Egglestons, didn't they ?" 

"Yes," said his mother, "they did sit there. There 
is quite a large family. The ladies are all very nice- 
looking, too, and they all look alike. If they are going 
to church, such a family as that, and so well off, they 
will be quite an acquisition to Banbridge." 

"Yes," said Randolph. He spoke absently, and he 
looked absently at a great wistaria which draped with 
pendulous purple blooms the veranda of a house which 
they were just passing. It arrested his eyes as with a 
loud chord of color, but his mind did not grasp it at all. 
Afterwards he could not have said he had seen it. As is 
often the case, while his eyes actually saw one thing, 
his consciousness saw another. Great, purple, pendulous 
flowers filled his bodily vision, and the head and shoul- 
ders of a young girl above a church pew his mental 
outlook. Had he seen the Carrolls in church — had he, 
indeed? Had he seen anything besides them, or 
rather besides one of them? Had he not, the mo- 
ment she came up the aisle and entered the pew, 
seen her with a very clutch of vision? He could not 
have described one article of her dress, and yet it was 
complete in his thought. She had worn a soft silk of 
a dull-red shade, with a frill of cream lace about the 
shoulders, and there were pink roses under the brim 
of her dull-red hat, and under the roses was her face, 
shaded softly with a great puff of her dark hair. And 
her dark eyes under the dark hair had in them the very 
light of morning dew, which sparkled back both this 
world and heaven itself into the eyes of the looker, all 
reflected in tiny crystal spheres. Suddenly the man 

73 



THE DEBTOR 

gazing across the church had seen in this girl's face all 
there was of earth and the overhang of heaven ; he had 
seen the present and the future. It is through the face 
of another human being that one gets the furthest reach 
of human vision, and that furthest reach had now come 
for the first time to Randolph Anderson. All at once a 
quiver ran through his entire consciousness from this 
elongated vision, and he realized sight to its uttermost. 
Yet it did not dawn on him that he was in love with 
this girl. He would have laughed at the idea. He had 
seen her only twice; he had spoken to her only once. He 
knew nothing of her except that she had given him a 
worthless check to cash. Love could not come to him 
in this wise, and it had not, in fact. He had only at- 
tained to the comprehension of love. He had gotten 
faith, he had seen the present world and the world to 
come in the light of it, but not as yet his own soul. Yet 
always he saw the girl's head under the pink roses under 
the brim of the dark-red hat. It was evidently a fa- 
vorite headgear of hers. She had worn it with a white 
dress when she had come to the store to get the check 
cashed. But he had not seen her so fully then. His 
little doubt and bewilderment over the check had cloud- 
ed his vision. Now, since he had seen her in the church- 
pew, his last thrifty scruple as to ignoring the matter 
of the check left him. He felt that he could not put his 
doubt of her father to the proof. Suppose that the ac- 
count had not been carelessly overdrawn — Suppose — 
He never for one instant suspected the girl. As soon 
suspect a rosebud of foregoing its own sweet personality, 
and of being in reality something else, say a stinging 
nettle. The girl carriecj her patent royal of youth and 
innocence on her face. He made up his mind to say 
nothing about the check, to lose the ten dollars, and, 
since dollars were so far from plenty with him, to sac- 
rifice some luxury for the luxury of the loss. He made 

74 



THE DEBTOR 



up his mind that he could very well do without the book 
with colored plates of South American butterflies which 
he had thought of purchasing. Much better live without 
that than rub the bloom off a better than butterfly's wing. 
Better anything than disturb that look of innocent ig- 
norance on that girl's little face. 



CHAPTER VI 



It was the next day that Randolph Anderson, on his 
way home at noon, saw ahead of him, just as he turned 
the corner from Main to Elm street, where his own 
house was, a knot of boys engaged in what he at first 
thought was a fight or its preliminaries. There was a 
great clamor, too. In the boughs of a maple in the 
near-by yard were two robins wrangling; underneath 
were the boys. The air was full of the sweet jangle 
of birds and boyish trebles, for all the boys were young. 
Anderson, as he came up, glanced indifferently at the 
turbulent group and saw one boy who seemed to be 
the centre of contention. He was backed up against the 
fence, an ornate iron affair backed by a thick hedge, 
the green leaves of which pricked through the slender 
iron uprights. In front of this green, iron-grated wall, 
which was higher than his head, for he was a little 
fellow, stood a boy, who Anderson saw at a glance was 
the same one whom he had seen with the Carrolls in 
church the day before. His hair was rather long and 
a toss of dark curls. His face was as tenderly pretty 
as his sister's, whom he strongly resembled, although he 
was somewhat fairer of complexion. But it was full of 
the utmost bravado of rage and defiance, and his two 
small hands were clinched, until the knuckles whitened, 
in the faces of the little crowd who confronted him. 
The color had not left his face, for his cheeks burned 
like roses, but his pretty mouth was hard set and his 
black eyes blazed. The boys danced and made threat- 

7 6 



THE DEBTOR 



ening feints at him. They called out confused taunts 
and demands whose purport Anderson at first did not 
comprehend, but the boy never swerved. When one of 
his tormentors came nearer, out swung the little white 
fist at him, and the other invariably dodged. 

Anderson's curiosity grew. He went closer. Amidon 
and Ray, the postmaster, on his way home to his dinner, 
also joined him, and the little barber, smelling strongly 
of scented soap and witch-hazel. They stood listening 
interestedly. 

"Most too many against one," remarked the post- 
master. 

"He don't look scared," said Amidon. "He's South- 
ern, and he's got grit. He's backed up there like the 
whole Confederacy." 

A kindly look overspread the sleek, conceited face 
of the man. His forebears were from Alabama. His 
father had been a small white slave-owner who had 
drifted North, in a state of petty ruin after the war, 
and there Amidon, who had been a child at the time, 
had grown up and married the thrifty woman who 
supported him. The wrangle increased, the boys 
danced more energetically, the small fists of the boy at 
bay were on closer guard. 

"Hi, there!" sung out Amidon. "Look at here; 
there's too many of ye. Look out ye don't git into no 
mischief, now." 

"Hullo, boys! what's the trouble?" shouted the post- 
master, in a voice of authority. He was used to running 
these same boys out of his office when they became too 
boisterous during the distribution of the mails, making 
precipitate dashes from the inner sanctum of the United 
States government. They were accustomed to the 
sound of his important shout, and a few eyes rolled over 
shoulder at him. But they soon plunged again into 
their little whirlpool of excitement, for they were quick- 

77 



THE DEBTOR 



witted and not slow to reason that they were now on 
the king's highway where they had as much right as the 
postmaster, and could not be coerced under his au- 
thority. 

"What is it all about?" the postmaster called, loudly, 
above the hubbub, to Anderson. 

Anderson shook his head. He was listening to the 
fusillade of taunting, threatening yells, with his forehead 
knitted. Then all at once he understood. Over and 
over, with every pitch possible to the boyish threats, 
the cry intermingling and crossing until all the vowels 
and consonants overlapped, the boys repeated: "Yerlie 
— yerlie — yerlie — " They clipped the reproach short; 
they elongated it into a sliding thrill. From one boy, 
larger than the others, and whose voice was changing, 
came at intervals the demand, in a hoarse, cracking 
treble, with sudden descents into gulfs of bass: "Take 
it ba-ck! Take it ba-ck!" 

Always in response to that demand of the large boy, 
who was always the one who danced closest to the boy 
at bay, came the reply, in a voice like a bird's, "Die 
first — die first." 

After a most energetic dash of this large boy, Ander- 
son stepped up and caught him by the shoulder on his 
retreat from the determined little fist. He knew the 
large boy; he was a nephew of Henry Lee, whose wife 
had invaded the Carroll house in the absence of the 
family. 

"See here, Harry," said Anderson, "what is this 
about, eh?" 

The large boy, who, in spite of his size, was a young- 
ster, looked at once terrifiedly and pugnaciously into his 
face, and beginning with a whimper of excuse to Ander- 
son, ended with a snarl of wrath for the other boy. 
"He tells lies, he does. He tells lies. Ya-h!" The 
boy danced at the other even under Anderson's restrain- 

78 



THE DEBTOR 



ing hand on his shoulder. "Yerlie — yerlie! Ya-h!" he 
yelled, and all the others joined in. The chorus was 
deafening. Anderson's hand on the boy's shoulder 
tightened. He shook him violently. The boy's cap 
fell off, and his shock of fair hair waved. He rolled 
eves of terrified wonder at his .captor. ''What, 
wha-at? — " he stammered. "You lemme be. You — 
Wha-at?" 

"I'll tell you what, you big bully, you," said Ander- 
son, sternly. "That boy there is one to a dozen, and 
he's the smallest of the lot — he's half your size. Now, 
what in thunder are you all about, badgering that little 
chap so: 5 " 

A sudden silence prevailed. They all stood looking 
from under lowered eyebrows at the group of watch- 
ing men ; their small shoulders under their little school- 
jackets were seen to droop; scarcely a boy but shuf- 
fled his right leg, while their hands, which had been 
gyrating fists, unclinched and twitched at their sides. 
But the boy did not relax for a second his expression 
of leaping, bounding rage, of a savage young soul in 
a feeble body. Now he included Anderson and the 
other men. He held his head with the haughtiness 
of a prince. He seemed to question them with silent 
wrath. 

"Who are you who dare to come here and interfere 
in my quarrel?" he seemed to say. "I was sufficient 
unto myself. I needed none of your protection. What 
if I was one to a dozen ? Look at me /" His little hands 
did not for a second unclinch. He was really very 
young, probably no more than ten. He was scarcely 
past his babyhood, but he was fairly impressive, not 
the slightest maturity of mind, but of spirit. He could 
never take a fiercer stand against odds than now if he 
lived to be a hundred. 

Anderson approached him, in spite of himself, with 

79 



THE DEBTOR 



a certain respect. "What is the matter, young man?" 
he inquired, gravely. 

The boy regarded him with silent resentment and 
scorn; he did not deign an answer. But the big boy 
replied for him promptly: 

"He — he said his father kept a tame elephant when 
thev lived in Xew York State, and he — he used to ride 
him—" 

He spoke in a tone of aggrieved virtue, and regarded 
the other with a scowl. The men guffawed, and after 
a second the boys also. Then a little fellow behind the 
ringleader offered additional testimony. 

"He said he used to get up a private circus once a 
week, every Saturday, and charge ten cents a head, and 
made ten dollars a week," he said. Then his voice of 
angry accusation ended in a chuckle. 

Anderson kept his face quite grave, but all the others 
joined in the chorus of merriment. The little fellow 
backed against the iron fence gave an incredulous start 
at the sound of the laughter, then the red roses faded 
out on his smooth cheeks and he went quite white. The 
laughter stung his very soul as no recrimination could 
have done. He suffered tortures of mortified pride. His 
fists were still clinched, but his proud lip quivered a lit- 
tle. He looked very young — a baby. 

Anderson stepped to his aid. He raised his voice. 
"Now, look here, boys," he said. But he made no 
headway against the hilarity, which swelled higher and 
higher. The crowd increased. Several more men and 
boys were on the outskirts. An ally pressed through 
the crowd to Anderson's side. 

"Now, boys," he proclaimed, and for a moment his 
thin squeak weighted with importance gained a hearing 
— "now, boys," said the barber, "this little feller's 
father is an extinguished new denizen of Banb ridge, 
and vou ain't treatin' of him with proper disrespect. 

80 



THE DEBTOR 



Now — " But then his voice was drowned in a wilder 
outburst than ever. The little crowd of men and boys 
went fairly mad with hysterical joy of mirth, as an 
American crowd will when once overcome by the humor 
of the situation in the midst of their stress of life. They 
now laughed at the little barber and the boy. The old 
familiar butt had joined forces with the new ones. 

"They have formed a trust/' said Amidon, deserting 
his partisanship, now that it had assumed this phase of 
harmless jocularity. 

But the boy at bay, as the laughter at his expense in- 
creased, was fairly frantic. He lost what he had hither- 
to retained, his self-possession. "I tell you I did!" he 
suddenly screamed out, in a sweet screech, like an angry 
bird, which commanded the ears of the crowd from its 
strangeness. "I tell you I did have an elephant, I 
did ride him, and I did have a circus every Saturday 
afternoon, so there!' ' 

The ' 'so there" was tremendous. The words van- 
ished in the sound. The boyish expression denoting 
triumphant climax became individual, the language of 
one soul. He fired the words at them all like a charge 
of shot. There was a pause of a second, then the laugh- 
ter and mocking were recommencing. But Anderson 
took advantage of the lull. 

"See here, boys, he shouted, "there's been enough 
of this. What is it to you whether he had a dozen ele- 
phants and rode them all at once, and had a circus every 
day in the week with a dozen tame bears thrown in? 
Clear out and go home and get your dinners. Clear 
out! Vamoose! Scatter!" His tone was at once 
angry and appealing. It implied authority and com- 
radeship. 

Anderson had given great promise as a speaker dur- 
ing his college course. He was a man who, if he exerted 
himself, could gauge the temper of a mob. The men 

81 



THE DEBTOR 



on the outskirts began moving away easily ; the boys 
followed their example. The little barber took the boy 
familiarly by the arm. 

"Now, you look at here," said he. "Don't you hev 
them chaps a-pesterin' of you no more, an* ef they do, 
you jest streak right into my parlor an' I'll take care 
of ye. See?" 

The boy twitched his arm away and eyed the barber 
witheringly. "I don't want anything to do with you 
nor your old barber-shop," said he. 

"You had better run along, John," said Anderson 
to the barber, who was staring amazedly, although 
the complacent smirk upon his face was undiminished. 

"I guess he's a child kinder given to speakin' at 
tandem," he said, as he complied with Anderson's 
advice. 

The boy turned at once to the man. "What business 
had that barber telling me to go into his old barber- 
shop?" demanded he. "I ain't afraid of all the boys 
in this one-horse town." 

"Of course not," said Anderson. 

"I did have an elephant when I lived in Hillfield, 
and I did ride him, and I did have circuses every Satur- 
day," said the boy, with challenge. 

Anderson said nothing. 

"At least — " said the child, in a modified tone. 
Anderson looked at him with an air of polite waiting. 
The boy's roses bloomed again. "At least — " he 
faltered, "at least — " A maid rang a dinner-bell 
frantically in the doorway of the house near which they 
were standing. Anderson glanced at her, then back 
at the boy. "At least — " said the boy, with a blurt of 
confidence which yielded nothing, but implied the recog- 
nition of a friend and understander in the man — "at — 
least I used to make believe I had an elephant when I 
lived in Hillfield." 

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THE DEBTOR 



"Yes?" said Anderson. He made a movement to 
go, and the boy still kept at his side. 

"And — " he added, but still with no tone of apology 
or confession, "I might have had an elephant. " 

"Yes," said Anderson, "you might have." 

"And they did not know but what I might," said the 
boy, angrily. 

Anderson nodded judicially. "That's so, I suppose; 
only elephants are not very common as setter dogs for 
a boy to have around these parts." 

"It was a setter dog," said the boy, with a burst of 
innocence and admiration. "How did you know?" 

"Oh, I guessed." 

" You must be real smart," said the boy. " My father 
said he thought you were, and somehow had got stranded 
in a grocery store. Did you?" 

"Yes, I did," replied Anderson. 

Anderson was now walking quite briskly towards 
home and dinner, and the boy was trotting by his side, 
with seemingly no thought of parting. They proceeded 
in silence for a few steps ; then the boy spoke again. 

"I began with the setter dog/' said he. "His name 
was Archie, and he used to jump over the roof of a part 
of our house as high as" — he looked about and pointed 
conclusively at the ell of a house across the street — "as 
high as that," he said, with one small pink finger indi- 
cating unwaveringly. 

"That must have been quite a jump," remarked 
Anderson, and his voice betrayed nothing. 

"That setter was an awful jumper," said the little 
boy. "He died last winter. My sisters cried, but I 
didn't." His voice trembled a little. 

"He must have been a fine dog/' said Anderson. 

" Yes, sir, he could jump. I think that piece of our 
house he used to jump over was higher than that," said 
the boy, reflectively, with the loving tone of a panegyrist 

83 



THE DEBTOR 



who would heap more and more honors and flowers upon 

a dear departed. 

"A big jump," said Anderson. 

" Yes, sir, he was an awful jumper. Those boys they 
said I lied. First they said he couldn't do it, then they 
said I didn't have any dog, and then I — " 

"And then you said you had the elephant?" 

44 Yes, sir. Say, you ain't going to tell 'em what I've 
told you?" 

"You better believe I'm not. But I tell you one 
thing — next time, if you'll take my advice, you had 
better stick to the setter dog and let elephants alone." 

"Maybe it would be better," said the boy. Then he 
added, with a curious sort of naive slyness, "But I 
haven't said I didn't have any elephant." 

"That's so," said Anderson. 

Suddenly, as the two walked along, the man felt a 
hard, hot little hand slide into his. "I guess you must 
be an awful smart man," said the boy. 

"What is your name?" said Anderson, in lieu of a 
disclaimer, which somehow he felt would seem to savor 
of mock modesty in the face of this youthful enthusi- 
asm. 

"Why, don't you know?" asked the boy, in some 
wonder. "I thought everybody knew who we were. 
I am Captain Carroll's son. My name is Eddy Car- 
roll." 

" I knew you were Captain Carroll's son, but I did not 
know your first name." 

"I knew you," said the boy. "I saw you out in the 
field catching butterflies." 

"Where were you?" 

"Oh, I was fishing. "I was under those willows by 
the brook. I kept pretty still, and you didn't see me. 
Have to lay low while you're fishing, you know." 

"Of course," said Anderson. 

84 



THE DEBTOR 



"I didn't catch anything. I don't believe fish are 
very thick in the brooks around here. I used to 
catch great big fellers when I lived in Hill field. One 
day—" 

''When do you have your dinner at home?" broke in 
Anderson. 

" 'Most any time. Say, Mr. Anderson, what are you 
going to have for dinner?" 

Anderson happened to know quite well what he was 
going to have for dinner, because he had himself ordered 
it on the way to the store that morning. He answered 
at once: 

"Roast lamb and green pease and new potatoes," 
said he. 

"Oh!" said the boy, with unmistakable emphasis. 

"And I am quite sure there is going to be a cherry- 
dumpling for desert," said Anderson, reflectively. 

"I like all those things," stated the boy, with em- 
phasis that was pathetic. 

The man stopped and looked down at the boy. " Now, 
see here, my friend," said he. "Honest, now, no dodg- 
ing. Never mind if you do like things. Honest — you 
can't cheat me, you know — " 

The boy looked back at him with eyes of profound 
simplicity and faith. "I know it," he replied. 

"Well, then, now you tell me, honest, if you do stay 
and have dinner with me won't your folks, your mother 
and your sisters, worry?" 

The boy's face, which had been rather anxious, cleared 
at once. "Oh no, sir!" he replied. "Amy never wor- 
ries, and Ina and Charlotte won't." 

"Who is Amy?" 

"Amy? Why, Amy is my mother, of course." 
"And you are sure she won't worry?" 
"Oh no, sir." The boy fairly laughed at the idea. 
His honesty in this at least seemed unmistakable. 

85 



THE DEBTOR 



"Well, then," said Anderson, "come along and have 
dinner with me." 

The boy fairly leaped with delight as, still clinging to 
the man's hand, he passed up the little walk to the 
Anderson house. He could smell the roast lamb and 
the green pease. 



CHAPTER VII 



Arthur Carroll went on business to the City every 
morning. He brought up to the station in the smart 
trap, the liveried coachman, with the mute majesty of 
his kind, throned upon the front seat. Sometimes one 
of Carroll's daughters, as delicately gay as a flower 
in her light daintiness of summer attire, was with 
him. Often the boy, with his outlook of innocent impu- 
dence, sat beside the coachman. Carroll himself was 
always irreproachably clad in the very latest of the 
prevailing style. Had he not been such a masterly 
figure of a man, he would have been open to the charge 
of dandyism. He was always gloved; he even wore a 
flower in the lapel of his gray coat. He carried always, 
whatever the state of the weather, an eminent umbrella 
with a carved-ivory handle. He equipped himself with 
as many newspapers from the stand as would an editor 
of a daily paper. The other men drew conclusions 
that it was highly necessary for him to study the state 
of the market and glean the truth from the various 
reports. 

One morning Henry Lee was also journeying to the 
City on the eight-o'clock train. He held a $2500 position 
in a publisher's office, and felt himself as good as any 
man in Banbridge, with the possible exception of this 
new - comer, and he accosted him with regard to his 
sheaf of newspapers. 

" Going to have all the news there is?" he inquired, 
jocularly. 

7 87 



THE DEBTOR 

Carroll looked up and smiled and nodded. ' ' Well, 
yes," he replied. "I find this my only way — read them 
all and strike an average. There is generally a kernel 
of truth in each." 

" That's so," said Lee. 

Carroll glanced speculatively at the ostentatiously 
squared shoulders of the other man as he passed 
through the car. 

When the train reached Jersey City, Carroll, leaving 
his newspapers fluttering about the seat he had occu- 
pied, passed oft the train and walked with his air of care- 
less purpose along the platform. 

"This road is a pretty poorly conducted concern," 
said a voice behind him, and Lee came up hurriedly and 
joined him. 

"Yes," replied Carroll, tentatively. His was not the 
order of mind which could realize its own aggrandize- 
ment by wholesale criticism of a great railroad system 
for the sake of criticism, and, moreover, he had a certain 
pride and self-respect about maintaining the majesty 
of that which he must continue to patronize for his own 
ends. 

"Yes," said Lee, moving, as he spoke, with a sort of 
accelerated motion like a strut. He was a much shorter 
man than Carroll, and he made futile hops to get into 
step with him as they proceeded. "Yes, sir, every train 
through the twenty-four hours is late on this road." 

Carroll laughed. "I confess that rather suits me, 
on the whole. I am usually late myself." 

They walked together to the ferry-slip, and the boat 
was just going out. 

"Always lose this boat," grumbled Lee, importantly. 

Carroll looked at his watch, then replaced it silently. 

"Going to miss an appointment?" questioned Lee. 

"No, think not. These boats sail pretty often." 

"I wish the train-service was as good," said Lee. 



THE DEBTOR 



The two men stood together until the next boat came 
in, then boarded it, and took seats outside, as it was a 
fine day. They separated a couple of blocks from the 
pier. Lee was obliged to take an up-town Elevated. 

" I suppose you don't go my way ?" he said to Carroll, 
wistfully. 

"No," said Carroll, smiling and shaking the ashes 
from his cigar. Both men had smoked all the way 
across — Carroll's cigars. 

"And I tell you they were the real thing," Lee told 
his admiring wife that night. "Cost fifteen cents 
apiece, if they cost a penny; no cheap cigars for him, 
I can tell you." 

Carroll said good-morning out of his atmosphere of 
fragrant smoke, and Lee, with a parting wave of the 
hand, began his climb of the Elevated stairs. He cast a 
backward look at Carroll's broad, gray shoulders swing- 
ing up the street. Even a momentary glimpse was 
enough to get a strong impression of the superiority of 
the man among the crowd of ordinary men hastening 
to their offices. 

"I wonder where he is going? I wonder where his 
office is?" Lee said to himself, accelerating his pace a 
little as the station began to quiver with an approaching 
train. 

What Lee asked himself many another man in Ban- 
bridge asked, but no one knew. No one dared to put 
the question directly to Carroll himself. 

Arthur Carroll had never been a man who opened 
wide all the doors of his secrets of life to all his friends 
and acquaintances. Some had one entrance, some 
another, and it is probable that he always reserved 
ways of entrance and egress unknown to any except 
himself. At the very time that he evaded the solicitude 
of Banbridge with regard to his haunts in the City he 
was more than open, even ostentatious concerning them 

8 9 



THE DEBTOR 



to some parties in the City itself, but he was silent re- 
garding Banbridge. It may have been for the reason 
that he did not for the present wish to mix the City 
and Banbridge, that he wished to preserve mysteries 
concerning himself in the regard of both. It is certain 
that nobody in his office, where he roused considerable 
speculation even among a more engrossed and less in- 
quisitive class, knew where he lived. The office had not 
heard of Banbridge; Banbridge had heard of the office, 
but knew nothing about it. The office, in a way, was 
not nearly as wise as Banbridge, for it knew nothing 
whatever of his family affairs. There was therein much 
speculation and, more than that, heart-burning as to 
whether Captain Carroll was or was not married. In 
the inner office, whence issued a mad tick of type-writers 
all through business hours, were two girls, one quite 
young and very pretty, the other also young, but not 
so pretty, both working for very small returns. There 
was also a book-keeper, a middle-aged man, and vibrating 
from the inner to the outer office was a young fellow with 
an innocent, high forehead and an eager, anxious outlook 
of brown eyes and a fashion of seeming to hang suspend- 
ed on springs of readiness for motion when an order should 
come. 

This young fellow, who sped in and out with that 
alacrity at the word of command, who hastened on er- 
rands with such impetus that he inspired alarm among 
the imaginative, had acquired a curious springiness 
about his hips that almost gave the effect of dislocation. 
He winked very fast, having gotten a nervous trick. 
He hurried ceaselessly. He had upon him the pro- 
found conviction of not time enough and the need of 
haste. He was in love with the prettier of the stenog- 
raphers, and his heart was torn when he heard the sur- 
mises as to his employer's married or single estate. 
He used to watch Carroll when he left the office at 

90 



THE DEBTOR 



night, and satisfied himself that he turned towards 
Sixth Avenue, and then he satisfied himself no more. 
Carroll plunged into mystery at night as he did for 
Banbridge in the morning. It was borne in upon the 
clerk who had an opulent imagination that Carroll was a 
great swell and went every night to one of the swellest 
of the up-town clubs, where he resided in luxury and the 
most genteel and lordly dissipation. He had, at the 
same time, a jealousy of and a profound pride in Carroll. 
Carroll himself had a sort of kindly scorn of him, and 
treated him very well. He was not of the description of 
weak character who antagonized him. 

As for the girls in the inner office, Carroll only recog- 
nized them there. Seen on the street, away from the en- 
vironment, he would simply not have dreamed he had 
ever seen them. He knew them only in their frames. As 
for the middle-aged man at the book-keeper's desk, he dis- 
turbed him in a way that he would not admit to himself. 
He spoke to him rather curtly. If he could avoid speak- 
ing to him he did so. He had a way of sending directions 
to the book-keeper by the young man. The book-keeper, 
if he also surmised Carroll's private life, gave no sign, 
although he had ample time. He sat at his desk faith- 
fully from eight o'clock until half -past four, but the work 
which he had to do was somewhat amazing to a mind 
which stopped to reason. Sometimes even this man, 
who understood the world in general as a place to be 
painfully clambered and tramped and even crawled 
over, to the accomplishment of the ulterior end of re- 
maining upon it at all, and who paid very little atten- 
tion to other people's affairs, except as they directly 
concerned the tragic pettiness of his own, wondered a 
little at the nature of the accounts which he faithfully 
kept. 

This book-keeper, whose name w r as William Allbright, 
lived in Harlem, so far up that it seemed fairly in the 

9i 



THE DEBTOR 



country, and on the second floor of a small, ancient build- 
ing which, indeed, belonged to the period when Harlem 
was country and which remained between two modern 
apartment houses. The book-keeper had a half-right 
in a little green backyard, wherein flourished with con- 
siderable energy an aged cherry-tree, from which the 
tenants always fondly hoped for cherries. The cherries 
never materialized, but the hope was something. The 
book-keeper's elder sister, who kept house for him, was 
fond of gazing at the cherry-tree, with its scanty spread 
of white blossoms, and dreaming of cherries. She was 
the fonder because she had almost no dreams left. 
It is rather sad that even dreams go, as well as actual- 
ities. However, the sister seemed not to mind so very 
much. Very little, except the pleasure which she 
took in watching the cherry-tree, gave evidence that she 
lamented anything that she had lost or merely missed 
in life. In general she had an air of such utter placidity 
and acquiescence that it almost amounted to numbness. 
The book-keeper at this time of year scratched away 
every evening with a hoe and trowel in his half of the 
backyard, where he was making a tiny garden-patch. 

The garden represented to him, as the tree did to his 
sister, his one ladder by which his earthly dreams might 
climb higher. One night he came home and there were 
three green spears of corn piercing the mould, and he 
fairly chuckled. 

1 'The corn has come up," said he. 

"So it has," said his sister. 

A widow woman and her son, who worked in one of 
the great retail stores, lived down-stairs in the building. 
The young man, rather consequential but interested, 
strolled out in the backyard and surveyed the corn. 
The widow, who was consumptive, thrust her head 
and shoulders, muffled in a white shawl, out of her 
kitchen window into the soft spring air. 

92 



THE DEBTOR 



"So the corn has come up," said the son, throwing 
himself back on his heels with a lordly air. The mother 
smiled dimly at the green spears from between the 
woolly swaths of her shawl. She coughed, and pulled 
the white fleece closely over her mouth and nose. Then 
only her eyes were visible, which looked young as they 
gazed at the green spears of corn. The book-keeper 
nodded his elderly, distinctly commonplace, and un- 
important head with the motion of a conqueror who 
marshals armies. 

After all, it is something for a man to be able to call 
into life, even if under the force which includes him 
also, the new life of the spring. It is a power like that 
of a child in leading-strings, but still power. After the 
mother and son had gone away and he and his sister 
were still out in the cool, and tfye great evening star had 
come out and it was too dark to work any longer, for 
the first time he said something about the queer accounts 
in his books in Captain Carroll's office. 

"I suppose it is all right," he said, leaning a second 
on his hoe and staring up at the star, "but sometimes 
my books and the accounts I keep look rather — strange 
to me." 

"He pays you regularly, doesn't he?" inquired the 
sister. The question of pay could sting her from her 
numbness. Once there had been a period, years ago, 
before Carroll's advent, of no pay. 

"Oh yes," replied the brother. "He pays me. He 
has never been more than a week behind. Captain 
Carroll seems like a very smart man. I wonder 
where he lives. I don't believe anybody in the office 
knows. He went away very early this afternoon. I 
don't know whether he lives in the City or in the 
country. I thought maybe if he did live in the coun- 
try he wanted to get home and go driving or some- 
thing." 

93 



THE DEBTOR 



It had been as the book-keeper surmised. Carroll had 
gone early to his home in the country with the idea of a 
drive. But when he reached home he found a state of 
affairs which precluded the drive. It seemed that young 
Eddy Carroll was given to romancing in more respects 
than one, and had not told the truth to Anderson when 
he had been asked if his family would feel anxious at 
his non-return to dinner. Eddy knew quite well that 
they would be anxious. In spite of a certain tempera- 
mental aversion to worry, the boy's mother and sisters 
were wont to become quite actively agitated if he failed 
to appear at expected times and seasons. Eddy Carroll, 
in the course of a short life, had contrived to find the 
hard side of many little difficulties. He had gotten into 
divers forms of mischief; he had met with many acci- 
dents. He had been almost drowned ; he had broken an 
arm ; he had been hit in the forehead by a stone thrown 
by another boy. 

When Arthur Carroll reached home that afternoon 
he found his wife in hysterical tears, his sister trying 
to comfort her, and the two daughters and the maid 
were scouring the town in search of the boy. School 
was out, and he had still not come home. Carroll 
heard the news before he reached home, from the coach- 
man who met him at the station. 

"Mr. Eddy did not come home this noon," said the 
man, with much deference. He was full of awe at his 
employer, being a simple sort, and this was his second 
place, his first having been with the salt of the earth 
who made no such show as Carroll. He reasoned that 
virtue and appearances must increase according to the 
same ratio. "Mrs. Carroll sent me to the school this 
noon," said the man, further, "and the ladies are very 
much worried. The young ladies and Marie are out 
trying to find him." Marie was the maid, a Hungarian 
girl. 

94 



THE DEBTOR 

"Well, drive home as fast as you can," said Carroll, 
with a sigh. He reflected that his drive was spoiled; 
he also reflected that when the boy was found he should 
be punished. Yet he did not look out of temper, and, in 
fact, was not. It was in reality almost an impossibility 
for Arthur Carroll to be out of temper with one of his 
own family. 

When Carroll reached home his wife came running 
down the stairs in a long, white tea-gown, and flung her 
arms around his neck. "Oh, Arthur!" she sobbed out. 
"What do you think has happened? What do you 
think?" 

Carroll raised his wife's lovely face, all flushed and 
panting with grief and terror like a child's, and kissed 
it softly. "Nothing, Amy; nothing, dear," he said. 
"Don't, my darling. You will make yourself ill. Noth- 
ing has happened." 

His sister Anna's voice, clear and strained, came from 
the top of the stairs. She stood there, holding an un- 
buttoned dressing-sack tightly across her bosom. The 
day was warm and neither of the ladies had dressed. 
"But, Arthur, he has not been home since morning," 
said Anna Carroll, "and Martin has been to the school- 
house, and the master says that Eddy did not return at 
all after the noon intermission, and he did not come 
home to dinner, after all." 

"Yes, he did not come home to dinner," said Mrs. 
Carroll; "and the butcher did send the roast of veal, 
after all. I was afraid he would not, because he had 
not been paid for so long, and I thought Eddy would 
come home so hungry. But the butcher did send it, 
but Eddy did not come. He cannot have had a thing 
to eat since morning, and all he had for breakfast were 
rolls and coffee. The egg-woman would not leave any 
more eggs, she said, until she was paid for the last two 
lots, and — " 

95 



THE DEBTOR 

Carroll pulled out a wallet and handed a roll of notes, 
not to his wife, but to his sister Anna, who came half- 
way down the stairs and reached down a long, slender 
white arm for it. 

n There," said he, "pay up the butcher and the egg- 
woman to-morrow. At least — " 

"I understand," said Anna, nodding. 

"What do you care whether the butcher or the egg- 
woman are paid or not, when all the boy we've got is 
lost?" asked Mrs. Carroll, looking up into her husband's 
face with the tears rolling over her cheeks. 

" That's so," said Anna, and she gave the roll of notes 
a toss away from her with a passionate gesture. "Arthur, 
where do you suppose he is?" 

The notes fell over the banisters into the hall below. 

Carroll watched them touch the floor as he answered, 
"My dear sister, I don't know, but boys have played 
truant before, and survived it; and I have strong hopes 
of our dear boy." Carroll's voice, though droll, was 
exceedingly soft and soothing. He put an arm again 
around his wife, drew her close to him, and pressed her 
head against his shoulder. "Dear, you will be ill," he 
said. "The boy is all right." 

" I am sure this time he is shot," moaned Mrs. Carroll. 

"My dear Amy!" 

"Now, Arthur, you can laugh," said his sister, coming 
down the stairs, the embroidered ruffles of her white 
cambric skirt fluttering around her slender ankles in 
pink silk stockings, and her little feet thrust into French- 
heeled slippers, one of which had an enormous bow and 
buckle, the other nothing at all. "You may laugh," 
said Anna Carroll, in a sweet, challenging voice, "but 
why is it so unlikely? Eddy Carroll has had every- 
thing but shooting happen to him." 

"Yes, he has been everything except shot," moaned 
Mrs. Carroll. 

9 6 



THE DEBTOR 



"My dearest dear, don't worry over such a thing as 
that!" 

"But, Arthur," pleaded Mrs. Carroll, "what else is 
there left for us to worry about ?" 

Carroll's mouth twitched a little, but he looked and 
spoke quite gravely. "Well," he said, "I am going 
now, and I shall find the boy and bring him home safe 
and sound, and — Amy, darling, have you eaten any- 
thing?" 

"Oh, Arthur," cried his wife, reproachfully, "do you 
think I could eat when Eddy did not come home to 
dinner, and always something dreadful has happened 
other times when he has not come? Eddy has never 
stayed away just for mischief, and then come home as 
good as ever. Something has always happened which 
has been the reason." 

" Well, perhaps he has stayed away for mischief alone, 
and that is what has happened now instead of the shoot- 
ing," said Carroll. 

"Arthur, if — if he has, you surely will not — " 

"Arthur, you will not punish that boy if he does 
come home again safe and sound ?" cried his sister. 

Carroll laughed. "Have either of you eaten any- 
thing?" he asked. 

"Of course not," replied his sister, indignantly. 

" How could we, dear ?" said his wife. " I had thought 
I was quite hungry, and when the butcher sent the roast, 
after all—" 

"Perhaps I had better wait and not pay him until he 
does not send anything," murmured Anna Carroll, as 
if to herself. "And when the roast did come, I was 
glad, but, after all, I could not touch it." 

"Well, you must both eat to-night to make up for it," 
said Carroll. 

"I had thought you would as soon have it cold for 
dinner to-night," said Mrs. Carroll, in her soft, com- 

97 



THE DEBTOR 



plaining voice. "We would not have planned it for 
our noon lunch, but we were afraid to ask the butcher 
for chops, too, and as long as there were no eggs for 
breakfast, we felt the need of something substantial; 
but, of course, when that darling boy did not come, and 
we had reason to think he was shot, we could not — " 
Mrs. Carroll leaned weepingly against her husband, but 
he put her from him gently. 

"Now, Amy, dearest," said he, "I am going to find 
Eddy and bring him home, and — you say Marie has gone 
to hunt for him?" 

"Yes, she went in one direction, and Ina and Char- 
lotte in others," said Anna Carroll. 

"Well," said Carroll, " I will send Marie home at once, 
and I wish you would see that she prepares an early 
dinner, and then we can go for a drive afterwards." 

"Eddy can go, too," said Mrs. Carroll, quite joyously. 

"No, Amy," said Carroll, "he will most certainly not 
go to drive with us. There are times when you girls 
must leave the boy to me, and this is one of them." He 
stopped and kissed his wife's appealing face, and went 
out. Then the carriage rolled swiftly round the curve 
of drive. 

"He will whip him," said Anna to Mrs. Carroll, who 
looked at her with a certain defiance. 

"Well," said she, "if he does, I suppose it will be for 
his good. A man, of course, knows how to manage a 
boy better than a woman, because he has been a boy 
himself. You know you and I never were boys, Anna." 

"I know that, Amy," said Anna, quite seriously, "and 
I am willing to admit that a man may know better how 
to deal with a boy than a woman does, but I must con- 
fess that when I think of Arthur punishing Eddy for 
the faults he may have — " 

"May have what?" demanded Mrs. Carroll, quite 
sharply for her. 

9 8 



THE DEBTOR 



"May have inherited from Arthur," declared Anna, 
boldly, with soft eyes of challenge upon her sister-in-law. 

"Eddy has no faults worth mentioning," responded 
Mrs. Carroll, seeming to enlarge with a sort of fluffy fury 
like an angry bird; " and the idea of your saying he in- 
herits them from his father. You know as well as I do, 
Anna, what Arthur is." 

"I knew Arthur before you ever did," said Anna, 
apologetically. "Don't get excited, dear." 

"I am not excited, but I do wonder at your speaking 
after such a fashion when we don't know what may 
have happened to the dear boy. Of course Arthur will 
not punish him if he is shot or anything." 

"Of course not." 

"And if he is not shot, and Arthur should punish 
him, of course it will be all right." 

"Yes, I suppose it will, Amy," said Anna Carroll. 

"Arthur feels so sure that nothing has happened to 
him that I begin to think so myself," said Mrs. Carroll, 
beginning to ascend the stairs with a languid grace. 

"Yes, he has encouraged me," assented Anna. "I 
suppose we had better dress now." 

"Yes, if we are going to drive directly after dinner. 
I'll put on my cream foulard, it is so warm. I suppose 
we have, perhaps, worried a little more than was neces- 
sary." 

"I dare say," said Anna, trailing her white frills and 
laces before her sister the length of the upper hall. "I 
think I'll, wear my blue embroidered linen." 

"You said the bill for that came yesterday?" 

"No, six weeks ago; certainly six weeks ago. You 
know I had it made very early. Oh yes, the second or 
third bill did come yesterday. I have had so many, I 
get mixed over those bills." 

"Well, it is a right pretty gown, and I would wear 
it if I were you," said Mrs. Carroll. 

99 



CHAPTER VIII 



Shortly after Captain Carroll started upon his 
search for his missing son, Randolph Anderson, sitting 
peacefully in his back office, by the riverward window, 
was rudely interrupted. He was mounting some new 
specimens. Before him the great tiger cat lay blissfully 
on his red cushion. He was not asleep, but was purring 
loudly in what resembled a human day-dream. His 
claws luxuriously pricked through the velvet of his 
paws, which were extended in such a way that he might 
have served as a model for a bas-relief of a cat running a 
race, Now and then the tip of his tail curled and un- 
curled with an indescribable effect of sensuousness. The 
green things in the window -box had grown luxuriantly, 
and now and then trailing vines tossed up past the win- 
dow in the infrequent puffs of wind. The afternoon 
was very warm. The temperature had risen rapidly 
since noon. Down below the wide window ran the 
river, unseen except for a subtle, scarcely perceptible 
glow of the brilliant sunlight upon the water. It was 
a rather muddy stream, but at certain times it caught 
the sunlight and tossed it back as from the 'facets of 
brown jewels. 

The murmur of the river was plainly audible in the 
room. It was very loud, for the stream's current was 
still high with the spring rains. The rustle of the trees 
which grew on the river-bank was also discernible, and 
might have been the rustle of the garments of nymphs 
tossed about their supple limbs by the warm breeze. 

IOO 



THE DEBTOR 



In fact, a like fancy occurred to Anderson as he sat there 
mounting his butterflies. 

"I don't wonder those old Greeks had their tales 
about nymphs closeted in trees," he thought, for the 
rustle of the green boughs had suggested the rustle of 
women's draperies, 

Then he remembered how Charlotte Carroll's skirts 
had rustled as she went out of the store that last after- 
noon when he had spoken to her. There was a soft 
crispness of ruffling lawns and laces, a most delicate 
sound, a maidenly sound which had not been unlike the 
sound of the young leaves of the willows overfolding 
and interlacing with one another when the soft breeze 
swelled high. Now and then all the afternoon came 
a slow, soft wave of warm wind out of the west, and 
all sounds deepened before it, even the purring song 
of the cat seemed to increase, and possibly did, from 
the unconscious assertion of his own voice in the peace- 
ful and somnolent chorus of nature. It was only spring 
as yet, but the effect was as of a long summer after- 
noon. Anderson, who was always keenly sensitive to 
all phases of nature and all atmospheric conditions, was 
affected by it. He realized himself sunken in drowsy, 
unspeculative contentment. Even the strange, emo- 
tional unrest and effervescence, which had been more or 
less over him since he had seen Charlotte Carroll, was in 
abeyance. After all, he was not a passionate man, and 
he was not very young. The young girl seemed to 
become merely a part of the gracious harmony which 
was lulling his soul and his senses to content and peace. 
He was conscious of wondering what a man could want 
more than he had, as if he had suspected himself of guilt 
in that direction. 

Then, suddenly, pell-mell into the office, startling the 
great cat to that extent that he sprang from his red 
cushion on the window-ledge, and slunk, flattening his 



THE DEBTOR 



long body against the floor, under the table, came the 
boy Eddy Carroll. The boy stood staring at him rather 
shamefacedly, though every muscle in his small body 
seemed on a twitch with the restrained impulse of 
flight. 

"Well," said Anderson, finally, " what's the trouble, 
sir?" 

Then the boy found his tongue. He came close to 
the man. 

"Say," he said, in a hoarse whisper, "jest let a feller 
stay in here a minute, will you?" 

Anderson nodded readily. He understood, or thought 
he did. He immediately jumped to the conclusion that 
the teasing boys were at work again. He felt a little 
astonished at this headlong flight to cover of the boy 
who had so manfully stood at bay a few hours before. 
However, he was a little fellow, and there had been a 
good many of his opponents. He felt a pleasant thrill 
of fatherliness and protection. He looked kindly into 
the little, pink-flushed face. "Very well, my son," said 
he. "Stay as long as you like. Take a seat." The boy 
sat down. His legs were too short for his feet to touch 
the floor, so he swung them. He gazed ingratiatingly at 
Anderson, and now and then cast an apprehensive glance 
towards the door of the office. Anderson continued 
mounting his butterflies, and paid no attention to him, 
and the boy seemed to respect his silence. Presently 
the great cat emerged quite boldly from his refuge 
under the table, crouched, calculated the distance, and 
leaped softly back to his red cushion. The boy hitched 
his chair nearer, and began stroking the cat gently and 
lovingly with his little boy -hand, hardened with climbing 
and playing. The cat stretched himself luxuriously, 
pricked his claws in and out, shut his eyes, and purred 
again quite loudly. Again the little room sang with 
the song of the river, the wind in the trees, and the cat's 

102 



WAS A GREAT BUTTERFLY, MUCH DILAPIDATED AS TO ITS 
GORGEOUS WINGS " 



THE DEBTOR 



somnolent note. The afternoon light rippled full of 
green reflections through the room. The boy's small 
head appeared in it like a flower. He smiled tenderly 
at the cat. Anderson, glancing at him over his butter- 
flies, thought what an angelic aspect he had. He 
looked a darling of a boy. 

The boy, stroking the cat, met the man's kindly 
approving eyes, and he smiled a smile of utter confidence 
and trust, which conveyed delicious flattery. Then 
suddenly the hand stroking the cat desisted and made a 
dive into a small jacket -pocket and emerged with a 
treasure. It was a great butterfly, much dilapidated as 
to its gorgeous wings, but the boy looked gloatingly 
from it to the man. 

"I got it for you," he whispered, with another glance 
at the office door. Anderson recognized, with the dis- 
may of a collector, a fine specimen, which he had sought 
in vain, made utterly worthless by ruthless handling, 
but he controlled himself. " Thank you," he said, and 
took the poor, despoiled beauty and laid it carefully 
on the table. 

"It got broke a little, somehow, " remarked the boy; 
"it's wings are awful brittle." 

"Yes, they are," assented Anderson. 

"I had to chase it quite a spell," said the boy, with 
an evident desire not to have his efforts underesti- 
mated. 

"Yes, I don't doubt it," replied Anderson, with 
gratitude well simulated. 

" It seemed rather a pity to kill such a pretty butterfly 
as that," remarked the boy, unexpectedly, but I thought 
you'd like it." 

"Yes, I like to have a nice collection of butterflies," 
replied Anderson, with a faint inflection of apology. In 
reality, the butterflies' side of it had failed to occur to 
him before, and he felt that an appeal to science in 
8 103 



THE DEBTOR 



such a case was rather feeble. Then the boy helped 
him out. 

"Well," said he, "I do suppose that a butterfly 
don't live very long, anyhow; he has to die pretty soon, 
and it's better for human beings to have him stuck on a 
pin and put where they can see how handsome he is, 
rather than have him stay out in the fields, where the 
rain would soak him into the ground, and that would 
be the end of him. I suppose it is better to save any- 
thing that's pretty, somehow, even if the thing don't 
like it himself." 

"Perhaps you are right," replied Anderson, regarding 
the boy with some wonder. 

"Maybe he didn't mind dying 'cause I caught him 
any more than just dying himself," said Eddy. 

"Maybe not." 

"Anyhow, he's dead," said the boy. 
He watched Anderson carefully as he manipulated 
the insect. 

"I'm sorry his wing got broken," he said. " I wonder 
why God makes butterflies' wings so awful brittle that 
they can't be caught without spoiling 'em. The other 
wing ain't hurt much, anyhow." 

A sudden thought struck Anderson. "Why, when 
did you get this butterfly?" he asked. 

The boy flushed vividly. He gave a sorrowful, ob- 
stinate glance at the man, as much as to say, "I am sad 
that you should force me into such a course, but I must 
be firm." Then he looked away, staring out of the 
window at the tree-tops tossing against the brilliant 
blue of the sky, and made no reply. 

Anderson made a swift calculation. He glanced at a 
clock on the wall. "Where did you get this butterfly ?" 
he inquired, harmlessly, and the boy fell into the net. 

" In that field just beyond the oak grove on the road 
to New Sanderson," he replied, with entire innocence. 

104 



THE DEBTOR 



Anderson surveyed him sharply. 

" When is afternoon school out?" asked Anderson. 

"At four o'clock, " replied the boy, with such unsus- 
picion that the man's conscience smote him. It was 
too easy. 

"Well," said Anderson, slowly. He did not look at 
the boy, but went on straightening the mangled wing 
of the butterfly which he had offered on his shrine. 
"Well," he said, "how did you get time to go to that 
field and catch this butterfly ? You say it took a long 
time, and that field is a good twenty minutes' run 
from here, and it is a quarter of five now." The boy 
kicked his feet against the rounds of his chair and made 
no reply. His forehead was scowling, his mouth set. 
"How?" repeated Anderson. 

Then the boy turned on the man. He slid out of his 
chair ; he spoke loudly. He forgot to glance at the door. 
"Ain't you smart?" he cried, with scorn, and still with 
an air of slighted affection which appealed. "Ain't 
you smart to catch a feller that way? You're mean, if 
you are a man, after I've got you that big butterfly, 
too, to turn on a feller that way." 

Anderson actually felt ashamed of himself. "Now, 
see here, my boy," he said, "I'm grateful to you so far 
as that goes." 

"I didn't run away from school," declared Eddy 
Carroll, looking straight at Anderson, who fairly gasped. 

He had seen people lie before, but somehow this was 
actually dazzling. He was conscious of fairly blinking 
before the direct gaze of innocence of this lying little 
boy. And then his elderly and reliable clerk appeared 
in the office door, glanced at Eddy, whom he did not 
know, and informed Anderson, in a slightly impressed 
tone, that Captain Carroll was in the store and would 
like to speak to him. Anderson glanced again at his 
young visitor, who had got, in a second, a look of pale 



THE DEBTOR 



consternation. He went out into the store at once, and 
was greeted by Carroll with the inquiry as to whether 
or not he had seen his son. 

"My boy has not been seen since he started for school 
this morning,' ' said Carroll. " I came here because 
another little boy, one of my son's small school-fellows, 
who has succeeded in treading the paths of virtue and 
obedience, volunteered the information, without the 
slightest imputation of any guilty conspiracy on your 
part, that you had been seen leading my son home to 
your residence to dinner," said Carroll. 

"Your son made friends with me on his way from 
school this noon," said Anderson, simply, "and upon 
his evident desire to dine with me I invited him, being 
assured by him that his so doing would not occasion 
the slightest uneasiness at home as to his whereabouts.' ' 

Anderson was indignant at something in the other 
man's tone, and was careful not to introduce in his tone 
the slightest inflection of apology. 

He made the statement, and was about to add that 
the boy was at that moment in his office, when Carroll 
interrupted. "I regret to say that my son has not 
the slightest idea of what is meant by telling the 
truth. He never had," he stated, smilingly, "espe- 
cially when his own desires lead him to falsehood. In 
those cases he lies to himself so successfully that he tells 
in effect the truth to other people. He, in that sense, 
told the truth to you, but the truth was not as he stated, 
for the ladies have been in a really pitiable state of 
anxiety." 

"He is in my office now," said Anderson, coldly, 
pointing to the door and beginning to move towards it. 

"I suspected the boy was in there," said Carroll, and 
his tones changed, as did his face. All the urbanity 
and the smile vanished. He followed Anderson with a 
nervous stride. Both men entered the little' office, but 

106 



THE DEBTOR 



the boy was gone. Both stood gazing about the little 
space. It was absolutely impossible for anybody to be 
concealed there. There was no available hiding-place 
except under the table, and the cat occupied that, and 
his eyes shone out of the gloom like green jewels. 

"I don't see him," said Carroll. 

Then Anderson turned upon him. 

"Sir," he said, with a kind of slow heat, "I am at a 
loss as to what to attribute your tone and manner. 
If you doubt — " 

"Not at all, my dear sir," replied Carroll, with a wave 
of the hand. "But I am told that my son is in here, 
and when, on entering, I do not see him, I am naturally 
somewhat surprised." 

"Your son was certainly in this room when I left it a 
moment ago, and that is all I know about it," said 
Anderson. "And I will add that your son's visit was 
entirely unsolicited — " 

"My dear sir," interrupted Carroll again, "I assure 
you that I do not for a moment conceive the possibility 
of anything else. But the fact remains that I am told 
he is here — " 

"He was here," said Anderson, looking about with 
an impatient and bewildered scowl. 

"He could not have gone out through the store while 
we were there," said Carroll, in a puzzled tone. 

"I do not see how he could have done so unobserved, 
certainly." 

"The window," said Carroll, taking a step towards it. 

"Thirty feet from the ground; sheer wall and rocks 
below. He could not have gone out there without wings." 

"He has no wings, and I very much fear he never 
will have any at this rate," said Carroll, moving out. 
"Well, Mr. Anderson, I regret that my son should have 
annoyed you." 

"He has not annoyed me in the least," Anderson re- 
107 



THE DEBTOR 



plied, shortly. "I only regret that his peculiar method 
of telling the truth should have led me unwittingly 
to occasion your wife and daughters so much anxiety, 
and I trust that you will soon trace him." 

" Oh yes, he will turn up all right, " said Carroll, easily. 
"If he was in your office a moment ago, he cannot be 
far off." 

There was the faintest suggestion of emphasis upon 
the "if." 

Anderson spoke to the elderly clerk, who had been 
leaning against the shelves ranged with packages of 
cereal, surmounted by a flaming row of picture adver- 
tisements, regarding them and listening with a curious 
abstraction, which almost gave the impression of stupid- 
ity. This man had lived boy and man in one groove 
of the grocer business, until he needed prodding to shift 
him momentarily into any other. 

In reality he managed most of the details of the 
selling. He heard what the two men said, and at the 
same time was considering that he was to send the 
wagon round the first thing in the morning with pease 
to the postmaster's, and a new barrel of sugar to the 
Amidons, and he was calculating the price of sugar 
at the slight recent rise. 

"Mr. Price," said Anderson to him, "may I ask that 
you will tell this gentleman if a little boy went into my 
office a short time ago?" 

The clerk looked blankly at Anderson, who patiently 
repeated his question. 

"A little boy," repeated the clerk. 

"Yes," said Anderson. 

Price gazed reflectively and in something of a troubled 
fashion at Anderson, then at Carroll. His mind was 
in the throes of displacing a barrel of sugar and a half- 
peck of pease by a little boy. Then his face brightened. 
He spoke quickly and decidedly. 

1 08 



THE DEBTOR 



" Yes," said he, "just before this gentleman came in, 
a little boy, running, yes." 

"You did not see him come out while we were talk- 
ing?" asked Anderson. 

"No, oh no." 

Carroll asked no further and left, with a good-day to 
Anderson, who scarcely returned it. He jumped into 
his carriage, and the swift tap of the horse's feet died 
away on the macadam. 

"Sugar ought to bring about two cents on a pound 
more," said the clerk to Anderson, returning to the 
office, and then he stopped short as Anderson started 
staring at an enormous advertisement picture which 
was stationed, partly for business reasons, partly for 
ornament, in a corner near the office door. It was a 
figure of a gayly dressed damsel, nearly life-size, and 
was supposed by its blooming appearance to settle 
finally the merit of a new health food. The other 
clerk, who was a young fellow, hardly more than a boy, 
had placed it there. He had reached the first fever- 
stage of admiration of the other sex, and this gaudy 
beauty had resembled in his eyes a fair damsel of Ban- 
bridge whom he secretly adored. 

Therefore he had ensconced it carefully in the corner 
near the office door, and often glanced at it with rever- 
ent and sheepish eyes of delight. Anderson never paid 
any attention to the thing, but now for some reason he 
glanced at it in passing, and to his astonishment it 
moved. He made one stride towards it, and thrust it 
aside, and behind it stood the boy, with a face of im- 
pudent innocence. 

Anderson stood looking at him for a second. The 
boy's eyes did not fall, but his expression changed. 

"So you ran away from your father and hid from 
him?" Anderson observed, with a subtle emphasis of 
scorn. "So you are afraid?" 

109 



THE DEBTOR 



The boy's face flashed into red. his eyes blazed. 

" You bet I ain't, " he declared. 

" Looks very much like it," said Anderson, coolly. 

" You let me go," shouted the boy, and pushed rudely 
past Anderson and raced out of the store. Anderson 
and the old clerk looked at each other across the great 
advertisement which had fallen face downward on the 
floor. 

"Must have come in from the office whilst our back 
was turned, and slipped in behind that picture," said 
the clerk, slowly. 

Anderson nodded. 

"He is a queer feller," said the clerk, further. 

"He certainly is," agreed Anderson. 

"As queer as ever I seen. Guess his father '11 give 
it to him when he gits home." 

"Well, he deserves it," replied Anderson, and added, 
in the silence of his mind, "and his father deserves it, 
too," and imagined vaguely to himself a chastening 
providence for the eternal good of the father even as the 
father might be for the eternal good of his son. The 
man's fancy was always more or less in leash to his 
early training. 

Just then the younger clerk, Sam Riggs, commonly 
called Sammy, entered, and espying at once with jealous 
eyes the fallen state of his idol in the corner, took the 
first opportunity to pick her up and straighten her to 
her former position. 



CHAPTER IX 



Little Eddy Carroll, running on his slim legs like a 
hound, raced down the homeward road, and came in 
sight of his father's carriage just before it turned the 
corner. Carroll had stopped once on the way, and so 
the boy overtook him. When Carroll stopped to make 
an inquiry, he caught a glimpse of the small, flying figure 
in the rear; in fact, the man to whom he spoke pointed 
this out. 

" Why, there's your boy, now, Cap'n Carroll, " he said, 
"runnin' as fast after you as you be after him." The 
man was an old fellow of a facetious turn of mind who 
had done some work on Carroll's garden. 

Carroll, after that one rapid, comprehensive glance, 
said not another word. He nodded curtly and sprang 
into the carriage; but the old man, pressing close to the 
wheel, so that it could not move without throwing him, 
said something in a half -whisper, as if he were ashamed 
of it. 

" Certainly, certainly, very soon," replied Carroll, with 
some impatience. 

"I need it pooty bad," the old man said, abashedly. 

"Very soon, I tell you," repeated Carroll. "I cannot 
stop now." 

The old man fell back, with a pull at his ancient cap. 
He trembled a little nervously, his face was flushed, but 
he glanced back with a grin at Eddy racing to catch up. 

"Drive on, Martin," Carroll said to the coachman. 

The old gardener waited until Eddy came alongside, 
in 



THE DEBTOR 



then he called out to him. "Hi!" he said," better hurry 
up. Guess your pa is goin' to have a reckonin' with 

ye." 

"You shut up!" cried the boy, breathlessly, racing 
past. When finally he reached the carriage, he prompt- 
ly caught hold of the rear, doubled up his legs, and hung 
on until it rolled into the grounds of the Carroll place 
and drew up in the semicircle opposite the front-door. 
Then he dropped lightly to the ground and ran around 
to the front of the carriage as his father got out. Eddy 
without a word stood before his father, who towered 
over him grandly, confronting him with a really majestic 
reproach, not untinctured with love. The man's hand- 
some face was quite pale; he did not look so angry as 
severe and unhappy, but the boy knew well enough 
what the expression boded. He had seen it before. 
He looked back at his father, and his small, pink-and- 
white face never quivered, and his black eyes never 
fell. 

"Well?" said Carroll. . - 

"Where have you been?" asked Carroll. 

The anxious faces of the boy's mother and his aunt 
became visible at a front window, a flutter of white 
skirts appeared at the entrance of the grounds. The 
girls were returning from their search. 

"Answer me," commanded Carroll. 

"Teacher sent me on an errand," he replied then, with 
a kind of doggedness. 

"The truth," said Carroll. 

"I went out catching butterflies, after I had dined 
with Mr. Anderson and his mother." 

"You dined with Mr. Anderson and his mother?" 

"Yes, sir. You needn't think he was to blame. 
He wasn't. I made him ask me." 

"I understand. Then you did not go to school this 
afternoon, but out in the field?" 



THE DEBTOR 



"Yes, sir." 

Carroll eyed sharply the boy's right-hand pocket, 
which bulged enormously. The girls had by this time 
come up and stood behind Eddy, holding to each other, 
their pretty faces pale and concerned. 

"What is that in your pocket?" asked Carroll. 

"Marbles." 

"Let me see the marbles." 
"It ain't marbles, it's candy." 
"Where did you get it?" 
"Mr. Anderson gave it to me." 

Carroll continued to look his son squarely in the eyes. 

"I stole it when they wasn't looking," said the boy; 
"there was a glass jar — " 

"Go into the house and up to your own room," said 
Carroll. 

The boy turned as squarely about-face as a soldier 
at the word of command, and marched before his father 
into the house. The four women, the two at the window, 
the two on the lawn, watched them go without a word. 
Ina, the elder of the two girls, put her handkerchief to 
her eyes and began to cry softly. Charlotte put her arm 
around her and drew her towards the door. 

"Don't, Ina," she whispered, "don't, darling." 

"Papa will whip him very hard," sobbed Ina. "It 
seems to me I cannot bear it, he is such a little boy." 

"Papa ought to whip him," said Charlotte, quite 
firmly, although she herself was winking back the tears. 

"He will whip him so hard," sobbed Ina. "I quite 
gave up when papa found the candy. Stealing is what 
he never will forgive him for, you know." 

"Yes, I know. Don't let poor Amy see you cry, 
Ina." 

"Wait a minute before we go in. You remember 
that the time papa whipped me, the only time he ever 
did, when — " 

113 



THE DEBTOR 



"Yes, I remember. You never did again, honey." 

" Yes, it cured me, but I fear it will not cure Eddy. 
A boy is different.'' 

"Stop crying, Ina dear, before we go in." 

"Yes — I — will. Are my eyes very red?" 

"No; Amy will not notice it if you keep your eyes 
turned away." 

But Mrs. Carroll turned sharply upon Ina the moment 
she saw her. The two elder ladies had left the parlor 
and retreated to a small apartment on the right of the 
hall, called the den, and fitted up with some Eastern 
hangings and a divan. Upon this divan Anna Carroll 
had thrown herself, and lay quite still upon her back, 
her slender length extended, staring out of the window 
directly opposite at the spread of a great oak just late- 
ly putting forth its leaves. Mrs. Carroll was standing 
beside her, and she looked at the two girls entering 
with a hard expression in her usually soft eyes. 

"Why have you been crying?" she asked, directly, of 
Ina. Her hair was in disorder, as if she had thrust her 
fingers through it. It was pushed far off from her tem- 
ples, making her look much older. Red spots blazed 
on her cheeks, her mouth widened in a curious, tense 
smile. "Why have you been crying?" she demanded 
again when Ina did not reply at once to her question. 

" Because papa is going to whip Eddy," Ina said then, 
with directness, " and I know he will whip him very hard, 
because he has been stealing." 

"Well, what is that to cry about?" asked Mrs. Carroll, 
ruffling with indignation. Don't you think the boy's 
father knows what is best for his own son ? He won't 
hurt him any more than he ought to be hurt." 

" I only hope he will hurt himself as much as he ought 
to be hurt," muttered Anna Carroll on the divan. Mrs. 
Carroll gave her sister-in-law one look, then swept out 
of the room. The tail of her rose-colored silk curled 

114 



THE DEBTOR 



around the door - sill, and she was gone. She passed 
through the hall, and out of the front-door to the lawn, 
whence she strolled around the house, keeping on the 
side farthest from the room occupied by her son. 

"Hark!" whispered Ina, a moment after her mother 
had gone. 

They all listened, and a swishing sound was distinctly 
audible. It was the sound of regular, carefully measured 
blows. 

"Amy went out so she should not hear," whispered 
Ina. "Oh, dear!" 

"It is harder for her than for anybody else because 
she has to uphold Arthur for doing what she knows is 
wrong," said Anna Carroll on the divan. She spoke as 
if to herself, pressing her hands to her ears. 

"Papa is doing just right," cried Charlotte, indig- 
nantly. "How dare you speak so about papa; Anna?" 

"There is no use in speaking at all," said Anna, 
wearily. "There never was. I am tired of this life and 
everything connected with it." 

Ina was weeping again convulsively. She also had 
put her hands to her ears, and her piteous little wet, 
quivering face was revealed. 

"There is no need of either of you stopping up your 
ears," said Charlotte. " You won't hear anything except 
the — blows. Eddy never makes a whimper. You know 
that." 

She spoke with, a certain pride. She felt in her heart 
that a whimper from her little brother would be more 
than she herself could bear, and would also be more culp- 
able than the offence for which he was being chastised. 
She said that her brother never whimpered, and yet 
she listened with a little fear that he might. But she 
need have had no apprehension. Up in his bedroom, 
standing before his father in his little thin linen blouse, 
for he had pulled off his jacket without being told, 

IT 5 



THE DEBTOR 



directly when he had first entered the room, the little 
boy endured the storm of blows, not only without a 
whimper, but without a quiver. 

Eddy stood quite erect. His pretty face was white, 
his little hands hanging at his sides were clinched tightly, 
but he made not one sound or motion which betrayed 
pain or fear. He was counting the blows as they fell. 
He knew how many to expect. There were so many 
for running away and playing truant, and so many for 
lying, more for stealing, so many for all three. This 
time it was all three. Eddy counted while his father 
laid on the blows as regularly as a machine. When at 
last he stopped, Eddy did not move. He spoke without 
moving his head. 

" There are two more, papa," he said. "You have 
stopped too soon." 

Carroll's face contracted, but he gave the two addi- 
tional blows. "Now undress yourself and go to bed," 
he told the boy, in an even tone. "I will have some 
bread and milk sent up for your supper. To-morrow 
morning you will take that candy back to the store, and 
tell the man you stole it, and ask his pardon." 

"Yes, sir," said Eddy. He at once began unfasten- 
ing his little blouse preparatory to retiring. 

Carroll went out of the. room and closed the door be- 
hind him. His sister met him at the head of the stairs 
and accosted him in a sort of fury. 

"Arthur Carroll," said she, tersely, "I wish you would 
tell me one thing. Did you whip that child for his 
faults or your own?" 

Carroll looked at her. He was very pale, and his face 
seemed to have lengthened out and aged. "For both, 
Anna," he replied. 

"What right have you to punish him for your faults, 
I should like to know?" 

"The right of the man who gave them to him," 
116 



THE DEBTOR 



" You have the right to punish him for your faults — 
your faults?" 

"I could kill him for my faults, if necessary. " 

"Who is going to punish you for your faults? Tell 
me that, Arthur Carroll." 

"The Lord Almighty in His own good time," replied 
Carroll, and passed her and went down-stairs. 



CHAPTER X 



The next morning, just before nine o'clock, Anderson 
was sitting in his office, reading the morning paper. 
The wind had changed in the night and was blowing 
from the northwest. The atmosphere was full of a 
wonderful clearness and freshness. Anderson was con- 
scious of exhilaration. Life assumed a new aspect. 
New ambitions pressed upon his fancy, new joys seemed 
to crowd upon his straining vision in culminating vistas 
of the future. Without fairly admitting it to himself, 
it had seemed to him as if he had already in a great 
measure exhausted the possibilities of his own life, as if 
he had begun to see the bare threads of the warp, as if 
he had worn out the first glory of the pattern design. 
Now it was suddenly all different. It looked to him 
as if he had scarcely begun to live, as if he had not had his 
first taste of existence. He felt himself a youth. His 
senses were sharpened, and he got a keen delight from 
them, which stimulated his spirit like wine. He per- 
ceived for the first time a perfume from the green plants 
in his window-box, which seemed to grow before his 
eyes and give an odor like the breath of a runner. He 
heard whole flocks of birds in the sky outside. He dis- 
tinguished quite clearly one bird-song which he had 
never heard before. His newspaper rustled with as- 
tonishing loudness when he turned the pages, his cigar 
tasted to an extreme which he had never before noticed. 
The leaves of the plants and the tree-boughs outside 
cut the air crisply. His window-shade rattled so loudly 

118 



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that he could not believe it was simply that. A great 
onslaught of the splendid wind filled the room, and 
everything 'waved and sprang as if gaining life. Then 
suddenly, without the slightest warning, came a shower 
of the confection known as molasses-peppermints through 
the door of the office. They are a small, hard candy, 
and being thrown with vicious emphasis, they rattled 
upon the bare floor like bullets. One even hit Ander- 
son stingingly upon the cheek. He sprang to his feet 
and looked out. Nothing was to be seen except the 
young clerk, standing, gaping and half frightened, yet 
with a lurking grin. Anderson regarded him with amaze- 
ment. An idea that he had gone mad flashed through 
his mind. 

"What did you do that for, Sam?" he demanded. 
"I didn't do it." 
"Who did?" 

"That kid that was in here last night. That Carroll 
boy. He run in here and flung that candy, and out 
again, before I could more 'n' see him. Didn't know 
what were comin'." 

Anderson returned to his office, and as he crossed the 
threshold heard a duet of laughter from Sam and the 
older clerk. His feet crushed some of the candy as he 
resumed his seat. He took up his newspaper, but before 
he had fairly commenced to read he heard the imperi- 
ous sound of a girl's voice outside, a quick step, and a 
dragging one. 

"Come right along!" the girl's voice ordered. 

"You lemme be!" came a sulky boy's voice in re- 
sponse. 

"Not another word!" said the girl's. "Come right 
along!" 

Anderson looked up. Charlotte Carroll was entering, 
dragging her unwilling little brother after her. 

"Come," said she again. She did not seem to regard 

9 119 



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Anderson at all. She held her brother's arm with a firm 
grip of her little, nervous white hand. "Now," said she 
to him, "you pick up every one of those molasses- 
peppermint drops, every single one." 

The boy wriggled defiantly, but she held to him with 
wonderful strength. 

"Right away," she repeated, "every single one." 

"Let me go, then," growled the boy, angrily. "How 
can I pick them up when you are holding me this 
way?" 

The girl with a swift motion swung to the office door 
in the faces of the two clerks, the grinning roundness 
of the younger, and the half -abstracted bewilderment 
of the elder. Then she placed her back against it, and 
took her hand from her brother's arm. "Now, then, 
pick them up, every one," said she. 

Without another word the boy got down on his hands 
and knees and began gathering up the scattered sweets. 
Anderson had risen to his feet, and stood looking on 
with a dazed and helpless feeling. Now he spoke, and 
he realized that his voice sounded weak. 

"Really, Miss Carroll," he said, "I beg — It is of no 
consequence — " Then he stopped. He did not know r 
what it was all about; he had only a faint idea of not 
putting any one to the trouble to pick up the debris on 
his office floor. 

Charlotte regarded him as sternly as she had her 
brother. "Yes, it is of consequence. Papa told him 
to bring them back and apologize." 

Anderson stared at her, bewildered, while the little 
boy crawled like a nervous spider around his feet. 

" Why bring them back to me ?" he queried. For the 
moment the ex-lawyer forgot that molasses-peppermint 
balls yielded a part of his revenue, and were offered by 
him to the public from a glass jar on his shelf. He cast 
about in his mind as to what he could possibly have to 

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THE DEBTOR 



do with those small, hard, brown lollipops rolling about 
on his office floor. 

" You had them in a glass jar," said Charlotte, in an 
accusing voice, " right in his way, and — when he came 
home last night he had them in his pocket, and — papa 
whipped him very hard. He always does when — My 
brother is never allowed to take anything that does not 
belong to him, however unimportant," she concluded, 
proudly. 

Anderson continued to look at her in a sort of daze. 

"No," she added, severely, "he is not. No matter if 
he is so young, no more than a child, and a child is 
very fond of sweets, and — they were left right in his 
way." 

Anderson looked at her with the vague idea floating 
through his mind that he owed this sweet, reproachful 
creature an abject pardon for keeping his molasses- 
peppermint balls in a glass jar on his own shelf and not 
locking them away from the lustful eyes of small boys. 

"Papa told Eddy that he must bring them back this 
morning and ask your pardon," said Charlotte, "and 
when he came running out of the store I suspected what 
he had done; and when I found out, I made him come 
back. Pick up every one, Eddy." 

" Here is one he stepped on his own self and smashed 
all to nothing," said Eddy, in an aggrieved tone. "I 
can't pick that up, anyhow." 

"Pick up what you can of it, and put it in the paper 
bag." 

"I shouldn't think he could sell this to anybody 
without cheating them," remarked Eddy, in a lofty 
tone, in spite of his abject position. 

"Never you mind what he does with it. You pick 
up every single speck," ordered the girl; and the boy 
scraped the floor with his sharp finger-nails, and crammed 
the candy and dust into a small paper bag. The girl 

121 



THE DEBTOR 



stood watchfully over him; not the smallest particle 
escaped he reyes. " There's some more over there, 99 said 
she, sharply, when the boy was about to rise: and Eddy 
loped like some small animal on all-fours towards a tiny 
heap of crushed peppermint-drops. 

"He must have stepped on this, too/' he muttered, 
with a reproachful glare at Anderson, who had never in 
his life felt so at a loss. He was divided between con- 
sternation and an almost paralyzing sense of the ridicu- 
lous. He was conscious that a laugh would be regarded 
as an insult by this very angry and earnest young girl. 
But at last Eddy tendered him the bag with the rescued 
peppermint-drops. 

"I shouldn't think you would ask more than half- 
price for candy like this, anyway," said Eddy, admon- 
ishingly, and that was too much for the man. He 
shouted with laughter; not even Charlotte's face, w T hich 
suddenly flushed with wrath, could sober him. She 
looked at him a moment while he laughed, and her face 
of severe judgment and anger intensified. 

"Very well," said she, "if you see anything funny 
about this, I am glad, Mr. Anderson." 

But the boy, who had viewed with doubt and suspi- 
cion this abrupt change of aspect on the part of the man, 
suddenly grinned in response; his black eyes twinkled 
charmingly with delight and fun. "Say, you're all 
right," he said to Anderson, with a confidential nod. 

"Eddy!" cried Charlotte. 

"Now, Charlotte, you don't see how funny it is, be- 
cause you are a girl," said Eddy, soothingly, and he 
continued to grin at the man, half-elfishly, half-innocent- 
ly. He looked very small and young. 

The girl caught hold of his arm. "Come away im- 
mediately," she said, in a choking voice. "Imme- 
diately." 

"It's just like a girl to act that way about my going, 
122 



THE DEBTOR 



as if I wanted to come myself at all," said the boy, fol- 
lowing his sister's pulling hand, and still grinning under- 
standingly at Anderson over his shoulder. 

Charlotte turned in the doorway and looked majes- 
tically at Anderson. "I thought, when I obliged my 
brother to return here and pick up the candy, that I 
was dealing with a gentleman," said she. " Otherwise 
I might not have considered it necessary." 

Even then Anderson could scarcely restrain his 
laughter, although he was conscious that he was mor- 
tally offending her. He managed to gasp out some- 
thing about his surprise and the triviality of the whole 
affair of the candy. 

" I regret that you should consider the taking anything 
without leave, however worthless, as trivial," said she. 
"I have not been so brought up, and neither has my 
brother." She said this with an indescribable air of 
offended rectitude. She regarded him like a small, 
incarnate truth and honesty. Then she turned, and 
her brother was following with a reluctant backward 
pull at her leading hand, when suddenly he burst forth 
with a shout of malicious glee. 

"Say, you are making me go away, when I haven't 
given him back his old candy, after all! He didn't 
take it." 

Charlotte promptly caught the paper bag from her 
brother's hand, advanced upon Anderson, and thrust 
it in his face as if it had been a hostile weapon. An- 
derson took it perforce. 

"Here is your property," said she, proudly, but she 
seemed almost as childish as her brother. 

"I ain't said any apology, either," said Eddy. 

" The coming here and returning it is apology enough," 
said Anderson. 

He looked foolishly at the ridiculous paper bag, sticky 
with lollipops. For the first time he felt distinctly 

123 



THE DEBTOR 



ashamed of his business. It seemed to him, as he 
realized its concentration upon the petty details of 
existence, its strenuous dwelling upon the small, inane 
sweets and absurdities of daily life which ought to be 
scattered with a free hand, not made subjects of trade 
and barter, to be entirely below 7 a gentleman. He gave 
the paper bag an impatient toss out of the open win- 
dow over the back of the sleeping cat, which started a 
little, then stretched himself luxuriously and slept 
again. 

" There, he's thrown it out of the window !" proclaimed 
Eddy. He looked accusingly at Charlotte. "I might 
just as well have kept it as had it thrown out of the 
window," said he. "What good is it to anybody now, 
I'd like to know?" 

"Never mind w T hat he has done with it," said Char- 
lotte. "Come at once." 

"Papa told me I must apologize. He will ask me 
if I did." 

"Apologize, then. Be quick." 

"It is not — " began Anderson, who was sober enough 
now, and becoming more and more annoyed, but Char- 
lotte interrupted him. 

"Eddy!" said she. 

"I am very sorry I took your candy," piped Eddy, in 
a loud, declamatory voice which was not the tone of hum- 
ble repentance. The boy, as he spoke, eyed the man with 
defiance. It w r as as if he blamed him, for some occult 
reason, for having his own property stolen. The child's 
face became, under the forced humiliation of the apology, 
revolutionary, anarchistic, rebellious. He might have 
been the representative, the walking delegate, of some 
small cult of rebels against the established order of 
regard for the property -rights of others. The sinner, 
the covetous one of another's sweets, became the ac- 
cuser. Just as he was going out of the door, following 

124 



THE DEBTOR 



the pink flutter of his sister's muslin gown, he turned 
and spoke his whole mind. 

"You had a whole big glass jar of them, anyhow," 
said he, "and I didn't have a single one. You might 
have given me some, and then I shouldn't have stolen 
them. It's your own fault. You ought not to have 
things that anybody else wants, when they haven't got 
money to pay for them. It's a good deal wickeder than 
stealing. It was your own fault." 

But Eddy had then to deal with his sister. She 
towered over him, pinker than her pink muslin. The 
ruffles seemed agitated all over her slender, girlish figure, 
like the plumage of an angry bird. She caught her 
small brother by the shoulders, and shook him violently, 
until the dark hair which he wore rather long waved and 
his whole head wagged. 

"Eddy Carroll," she cried, "aren't you ashamed of 
yourself? Oh, aren't you ashamed of yourself? Beg- 
ging, yes, begging for candy! If you want candy, you 
will buy it. You will not beg it nor take it without 
permission. If you cannot buy it, you will go without, 
if you are a brother of mine. 

The boy for the first time quailed somewhat. He 
looked at her, and raised a hand childishly as if to ward 
off something. 

"I didn't ask, Charlotte," he half whimpered. "If 
he was to offer me any now, I would not take it. I 
would just fling it in his face. I would, Charlotte; I 
would, honest." 

"I heard you," said Charlotte. 

"I didn't ask him. I said if he had given me a little 
of that candy, I wouldn't have been obliged to take 
any. I said — " 

"I heard what you said. Now you must come at 
once." 

Anderson said good-morning rather feebly. Charlotte 
I2 5 



THE DEBTOR 



made a distant inclination of her head in response, and 
they were gone, but he heard Eddy cry out, in a tone of 
reproachful glee: 

44 There! you've made me late at school, Charlotte. 
Look at that clock; it's after nine. You've made me 
late at school with all that fussing over a few old pepper- 
mint-drops." 



CHAPTER XI 

Anderson, after they were gone, sat staring out of the 
window at the green spray of the spring boughs. His 
mouth was twitching, but his forehead was contracted. 
This problem of feminity and childhood which he had 
confronted was too much for him. The boy did not 
perplex him quite so much — he did not think so much 
about him — but the girl, the pure and sweet unreason 
of her proceedings, was beyond his mental grasp. The 
attitude of reproach which this delicate and altogether 
lovely young blossom of a thing had adopted towards him 
filled him with dismay and a ludicrous sense of guilt. He 
had a keen sense of the unreason and contrariness of 
her whole attitude, but he had no contempt towards 
her on account of it. He felt as if he were facing some 
new system of things, some higher order of creature 
for whom unreason was the finest reason. He bowed 
before the pure, unordered, untempered feminine, and 
his masculine mind reeled. And all the time, deeper 
within himself than he had ever reached with the 
furthest finger of his emotions, whether for pain or joy, 
he felt this tenderness, which was like the quickening 
of another soul, so alive was it. He felt the wonder 
and mystery of the awakening of love in his heart, this 
reaching out with all the best of him for the protection 
and happiness of another than himself. He saw before 
him, with no dimming because of absence, the girrs 
little, innocent, fair face, and such a tenderness for her 
was over him that he felt as if he actually clasped her 

127 



THE DEBTOR 



and enfolded her, but only for her protection and good, 
never for himself. 

"The little thing/' he thought over and over — "the 
little, innocent, beautiful thing! What kind of a place 
is she in, among what kind of people? What does this 
all mean?" 

Suspicions which had been in his mind all the time 
had developed. He had had proof in divers ways. 
He said to himself, "That man is a scoundrel, a common 
swindler, if I know one when I see him." But suspicions 
as to the girl had never for one minute dwelt in his 
furthest fancy. He had thought speculatively of the pos- 
sible complicity of the other women of the household, 
but never of hers. They were all very constant in 
their church attendance; indeed, Carroll had given 
quite a sum towards the Sunday-school library, and he 
had even heard suggestions as to the advisability of 
making him superintendent and displacing the pres- 
ent incumbent, who was superannuated. Sometimes in 
church Anderson had glanced keenly from under the 
quiet droop of languid lids at the Carrolls sitting in their 
gay fluff and flutter of silks and muslins and laces, and 
wondered, especially concerning Mrs. Carroll and her 
sister-in-law. It seemed almost inconceivable that they 
were ignorant, and if not, how entirely innocent! And 
then the expressions of their pretty, childish faces dis- 
armed him as they sat there, their dark, graceful heads 
drooping before the divine teaching with gentle acqui- 
escence like a row of flowers. But there was something 
about the fearless lift to Charlotte's head and the clear 
regard of her dark eyes which separated her from the 
others. She bloomed by herself, individual, marked 
by her own characteristics. He thought of her pas- 
sionate assertion of the principles of her home training 
with pity and worshipful admiration. It was innocence 
incarnate pleading for guilt which she believed like 

128 



THE DEBTOR 

herself, because of the blinding power of her own light. 
"She thinks them all like herself," he said to himself. 
' 'She reasons from her knowledge of herself." Then 
reflecting how Carroll had undoubtedly sent his son to 
return his pilfered sweets, he began to wonder if he 
could possibly have been mistaken in his estimate of 
the man's character, if he had reasoned from wrong 
premises, and from that circumstantial evidence which 
his experience as a lawyer should have led him to dis- 
trust. 

Suddenly a shadow flung out across the office floor 
and a man stood in the doorway. He was tall and 
elderly, with a shag of gray beard and a shining dome 
of forehead over a nervous, blue-eyed face. He was 
the druggist, Andrew Drew, who had his little pharmacy 
on the opposite side of the street, a little below Ander- 
son's grocery. He united with his drug business a 
local and long-distance telephone and the Western 
Union telegraph-office, and he rented and sold com- 
mutation-books of railroad tickets to the City. 

''Good-day," he said. Then, before Anderson could 
respond, he plunged at once into the subject on his 
mind, a subject that was wrinkling his forehead. How- 
ever, he first closed the office door and glanced around 
furtively. "See here," he whispered, mysteriously; 
"you know those new folks, the Carrolls?" With a 
motion of his lank shoulder he indicated the direction 
of the Carroll house. 

Anderson's expression changed subtly. He nodded. 

"Well, what I want to know is — what do you think 
of him?" 

"I don't quite understand what you mean," Anderson 
replied, stiffly. 

"Well, I mean — Well, what I mean is just this" — 
the druggist made a nervous, imperative gesture with a 
long forefinger — "this, if you want to know — is he goodV 

129 



THE DEBTOR 



" You mean ?" 
"Yes, is he good ?" 

"He has paid his bills here," Anderson said. He 
offered the other man a chair, which was declined with a 
shake of the head. 

"No, thank you, can't stop. I've left my little boy 
in the store all alone. So he has paid you ?" 

"Yes, he has paid his bills here," Anderson replied, 
with a guilty sense of evasion, remembering the check. 

"Well, maybe he is all right. I'll tell you, if you 
won't speak of it. Of course he may be all right; and 
I don't want to quarrel with a good customer. All 
there is — he came rushing in three weeks ago to-day 
and said he was late for the train, and he had used up 
his commutation and had come off without his pocket- 
book, and of course could not get credit at the station 
office, and if I had a book he would take it and write 
me a check. While he was talking he was scratching a 
check on a New York bank like lightning. He made 
a mistake and drew it for ten dollars too much; and I 
hadn't a full book anyway, only one with thirty-five 
tickets in it, and I let him have that and gave him the 
difference in cash — fifteen dollars and forty-two cents. 
And — well — the long and short of it is, the check came 
back from the bank, no good.'* 

"Did you tell him?" 

"Haven't seen him since. I went to his house twice, 
but he wasn't home. I tried to catch him at the station, 
but he has been going on different trains lately ; and once 
when I got a glimpse of him the train was in and he had 
just time to swing on and I couldn't stop him then, of 
course. Then I dropped him a line, and got a mighty 
smooth note back. He said there was a mistake ; he was 
very sorry; he would explain at once and settle; and 
that's over a week ago, and — " 

"Probably he will settle it, if he said so," said Ander- 
130 



THE DEBTOR 



son, with the memory of the little boy who had been 
sent to return the stolen candy in his mind. 

"Well, I hope he will, but— " The druggist hesi- 
tated. Then he went on: " There is something else, 
to tell the truth. One of his girls came in just now 
and asked me to cash a check for twenty-five dollars — 
her father's check, but on another bank — and — I re- 
fused.' 1 

Anderson flushed. A great gust of wind made the 
window rattle, and he pulled it down with an irritated 
jerk. 

"Do you think I did right?" asked the druggist, who 
had a nervous appeal of manner. "Maybe the check 
was good. I hated to refuse, of course. I said I was 
short of ready money. I don't think she suspected any- 
thing. She is a nice-spoken girl. I don't suppose she 
knew if the check wasn't good." 

"Any man who thinks so ought to be kicked," de- 
clared Anderson, with sudden fury, and the other man 
started . 

"I told you I didn't think so," he retorted, eying him 
with some wonder and a little timidity. "But I de- 
clare I didn't know what to do. There was that other 
check not accounted for yet; and I can't afford to lose 
any more, and that's a fact. Then you think I ought 
to have cashed it?" 

Anderson's face twitched a little. Then he said, as if 
it were wrung out of him, "On general principles, I 
should not call it good business to repeat a transaction 
of that kind until the first was made right." 

The druggist looked relieved. "Well, I am glad to 
hear you say so. I hated to — " 

"But Captain Carroll may be as good pay in the end 
as I am," interrupted Anderson. "He seems to me to 
have good principles about things of that kind." 

"Well, I'll cash the next check," said Drew, with a 
131 



THE DEBTOR 



laugh. "I must go back, for I left my little boy alone 
in the store." 

The druggist had scarcely gone before the old clerk 
came to the office door. "That young lady who was 
here a little while ago wants to speak to you, Mr. Ander- 
son," he said, with an odd look. 

"I will come out directly," replied Anderson, and 
passed out into the store, where Charlotte Carroll stood 
waiting with a heightened color on her cheeks and a 
look of mingled appeal" and annoyance in her eyes. 

"I beg your pardon," she said, "but can you cash a 
check for me for twenty-five dollars? It will be a great 
favor." 

"Certainly," replied Anderson, without the slightest 
hesitation. He was conscious that both clerks, the 
man and the boy, were watching him with furtive cu- 
riosity, and he was aware that Carroll's unreliability 
in the matter of his drafts had become widely known. 
He passed around the counter to the money-drawer. 

"Money seems to be very scarce in Banbridge this 
morning," remarked Charlotte, in a sweet, slightly 
petulant voice. She was both angry and ashamed 
that she had been forced to apply to Anderson to cash 
the check. "I have been everywhere, and nobody had 
as much as twenty-five dollars," she added. 

Anderson heard a very faint chuckle, immediately 
covered by a cough, from Sam Riggs. He began count- 
ing out the notes, being conscious that the man and the 
boy were regarding each other with meaning, that the 
boy's elbow dug the man's ribs. He handed the money 
to Charlotte with a courteous bow, and she gave him in 
return the check, which was payable to her mother, and 
which had been indorsed by her. 

"Thank you very much indeed," she said, but still in a 
piqued rather than very grateful voice. She really had 
no suspicion that any particular gratitude was called 

132 



THE DEBTOR 



for towards any one who cached one of her fathers 
checks. 

"You are quite welcome, " Anderson replied. 

"It is a great inconvenience not having a bank in 
Banbridge," she remarked, accusingly, as she went out 
of the door with a slight nod of her pretty head. Then 
suddenly she , turned and looked back. "I am very 
much obliged," she said, in an entirely different voice. 
Her natural gentleness and courtesy had all at once re- 
asserted themselves. "I trust I have not inconven- 
ienced you," she added, very sweetly. "I would have 
waited until papa came home to-night and got him to 
cash the check. He was a little short this morning, and 
had to use some money before he could go to the bank, 
but my sister and I are very anxious to take the eleven- 
thirty train to New York, and we had only a dollar and 
six cents between us." She laughed as she said the last, 
and Anderson echoed her. 

"That is not a very large amount, certainly, to equip 
two ladies to visit the shopping district," he said. 

"I am very glad to accommodate you, and it is not 
the slightest inconvenience, I assure you." 

"Well, I am very much obliged, very much," she 
repeated, with a pretty smile and nod, and she was 
gone with a little fluttering hop like a bird down the 
steps. 

"He's got stuck," the boy motioned with his lips to 
the old clerk as Anderson re-entered the office, and the 
man nodded in assent. Neither of them ventured to 
express the opinion to Anderson. Both stood in a cer- 
tain awe of him. The former lawyer still held familiar- 
ity somewhat at bay. 

However, there followed a whispered consultation 
between the two clerks, and both chuckled, and finally 
Sam Riggs advanced with bravado to the office door. 

"Mr. Anderson," he said, with mischief in his tone, 
133 



THE DEBTOR 



and Anderson turned r.nd looked at him inquiringly. 
"Oh, it is nothing, not worth speaking of, I suppose," 
said Sammy Riggs, "but that kid, the Carroll boy, 
swiped an apple off that basket beside the door when 
he went out with his sister. I saw him." 



CHAPTER XII 

Anderson was in the state of mind of a man who 
dreams and is quite aware all the time that he is 
dreaming. He deliberately indulged himself in this 
habit of mind. "When I am ready, I shall put all 
this away," he continually assured his inner conscious- 
ness. Then into the delicious charm of his air-castle 
he leaped again, mind and body. In those days he 
grew perceptibly younger. The fire of youth lit his 
eyes. He fed on the stimulants of sweet dreams, and 
for the time they nourished as well as exhilarated. 
Everybody whom he met told him how well he looked 
and that he was growing younger every day. He was 
shrewd enough to understand fully the fact that they 
considered him far from youth, or they would not have 
thus expressed themselves, but the triumph which he 
felt when he saw himself in his looking-glass, and in his 
own realization of himself, caused him to laugh at the 
innuendo. He felt that he was young, as young as man 
could wish to be. He, as before said, had never been 
vain, but mortal man could not have helped exultation 
at the sight of that victorious visage of himself looking 
back at him. He did not admit it to himself, but he 
took more pains with his dress, although he had always 
been rather punctilious in that direction. All unknown 
to himself, and, had he known it, the knowledge would 
have aroused in him rebellion and shame, he was carry- 
ing out the instinct of the love - smitten male of all 
species. In lieu of the gorgeous feathers he put on a 
10 135 



THE DEBTOR 



new coat and tie, he trimmed his mustache carefully. 
He smoothed and lighted his face with the beauty of 
joy and hope and of pleasant dreams. But there was, 
since he was a man at the head of creation, something 
more subtle and noble in his preening. In those days 
he became curiously careful — although, being naturally 
clean-hearted, he had little need for care — of his very 
thoughts. Naturally fastidious in his soul habits, he 
became even more so. The very books he read were, 
although he was unconscious of it, such as contributed 
to his spiritual adornment, to fit himself for his constant 
dwelling in his country of dreams. Certain people he 
avoided, certain he courted. One woman, who was in- 
nately coarse, although her life had hedged her in safely 
from impropriety, was calling upon his mother one 
afternoon about this time. She was the wife of the old 
Presbyterian clergyman, Dr. Gregg. She was a small, 
solidly built woman, in late middle life, tightly hooked 
up in black silk as to her body, and as to her soul by 
the prescribed boundaries of her position in life. Ander- 
son, returning rather earlier than usual, found her with 
his mother, and retreated with actual rudeness, the 
woman became all at once so repellent to him. 

"My son gets very tired," Mrs. Anderson said, softly, 
as she passed the pound-cake again to her caller. " Quite 
often, when he comes in, he goes by himself and has a 
quiet smoke before he says much even to me." 

Mrs. Gregg was eating the pound-cake with such 
extreme relish that Mrs. Anderson, who was herself fas- 
tidious, looked away, and as she did so heard distinctly 
a smack of the other woman's lips. 

"He grows handsomer and younger every time I see 
him," remarked Mrs. Gregg when she had swallowed 
her mouthful of cake and before she took another. 

Mrs. Anderson repeated the caller's compliment to 
her son later on when the two were at the supper-table. 

136 



THE DEBTOR 



" Yes, she paid you a great compliment," said she; "but, 
dear, why did you run out in that way ? It was almost 
rude, and she the minister's wife, too." 

"I don't see how Dr. Gregg keeps up his necessary 
quota of saving grace, living with her," said Anderson. 

"Why, my dear, I think she is a good woman." 

"She is a bottled-up vessel of wrath," said Anderson. 

"My son, I never heard you speak so before, and 
about a lady, too." 

Anderson fairly blushed before his mother's mild 
eyes of surprise. "Mother, you are right," he said, 
penitently. "I ought to be ashamed of myself, and I 
am. I know I was rude, but I did not feel like seeing 
her to-day. Of course she is a good woman." 

Mrs. Anderson looked a little reflective. Now that 
her son had taken a proper attitude with regard to her 
sister-woman, she began to feel a little critical license 
herself. "I will admit that she has little mannerisms 
which are not exactly agreeable and must grate on Dr. 
Gregg," said she. As she spoke she seemed to hear 
again the smacking of the lips over the pound-cake. 
Then she looked scrutinizingly at her son. "But," she 
said, "I do believe she was right, Randolph, about your 
looks." 

"Nonsense," said Randolph, laughing. 

It was a warm night. After supper they both went 
out on the front porch. Mrs. Anderson sat gazing at 
her son from between the folds of a little, white lace 
kerchief which she wore over her head, to guard against 
possible dampness. 

"Randolph," said she, after a while. 

"What is it, mother, dear?" 

" Do you feel well ?" 

" Of course I feel well. Why ?" 

"You look too well to be natural," said she, slowly. 
"Mother, what an absurdity!" 

i37 



THE DEBTOR 



"It is so," said she. "I had not noticed it until Mrs. 
Gregg spoke, but I see it now. I don't know where my 
eyes have been. You look too well. ,, 

Randolph laughed. "Now, mother, don't you think 
that sounds foolish ?" 

Mrs. Anderson continued to regard him with an ex- 
pression of maternal love and severity, which pierced 
externals more keenly than an X-ray. " No," said she, 
I do not think it is foolish. You look too well to be 
natural. You look this minute as young in your face 
as you did when I had you in petticoats." 

Randolph laughed loudly at that, but his mother 
was quite earnest. 

She was not satisfied, and continued arguing the mat- 
ter until she became afraid of the increasing dampness 
and went into the house, and the son drew a breath 
of relief. The mother little dreamed, with all her as- 
tuteness, of what was really transpiring. She did not 
know that when she had seated herself beside her son 
on the porch she had displaced with her gentle, elderly 
materiality the sweetest phantom of a beloved young 
girl. She did not know that when she entered the 
house the delicate, evanescent thing returned swifter 
than thought itself, and filled with the sweet presence 
that vacuum in her son's heart which she herself had 
never filled, and nestled there through a delicious hour 
of the summer night. She did not dream, as she sat 
by the window, staring out drowsily into the soft shadows 
and heard no murmur from her son on the porch, that 
in reality the silence of his soul was broken by words and 
tones which she had never heard from his lips, although 
she had brought him into the world. 

Anderson never admitted to himself the possibility 
of his dreams coming true. While his self-respect never 
wavered, while he viewed himself with no unworthy dis- 
paragement, he still saw himself as he was: verging 

138 



THE DEBTOR 



towards middle age, unsuccessful according to the stand- 
ard of the world. He was one of those inglorious 
failures, a man who has failed to follow out his chosen 
course of life. He was one who had turned back, over- 
come confessedly by odds. He told himself proudly 
and simply that his earning of money was, to one simple 
and honest end — the prolonging of existence on the 
earth for the good of one's fellow-beings, and one's own 
growth ; that he was attaining that end more completely 
in his little grocery store than he had ever done in his 
law-office. Yet always he saw himself, in a measure, as 
others saw him, and the humility of his position in the 
eyes of the world asserted itself. While he felt not the 
slightest bend in the erectness of his own soul because 
of it, while it even amused him, he never forgot the 
supercilious courtesy of the girl's father towards him. 
He recognized, even while feeling himself on superior 
heights, the downward vision of the man who robbed 
him. It was true that he paid scorn for scorn, but he 
was forced to take as well as give. 

He also was not in the slightest doubt as to Charlotte's 
own attitude towards him. He understood to the full 
the signification of the word grocer for her. He was, to 
her mind, hardly a man at all, rather a mechanical dis- 
penser of butter and eggs for the needs of a superior 
race. But he understood also the childish innocence 
and involuntariness of this view of hers. He recognized 
even the ludicrousness of the situation which perverted 
tragedy to comedy, almost Cyrano fashion. He com- 
pared himself to Cyrano. 

"As well consider the possibility of marriage with a 
girl of her training, even although it is on a false basis, 
with a monstrosity of nose on my face, as with the 
legend of retail grocery across my scutcheon/ ' he told 
himself. He even laughed over it. 

Therefore, being of a turn of mind which can rear for 
139 



THE DEBTOR 

itself airy towers of delight over the values of insuffi- 
ciency of life, and having an access of spirituality which 
enabled him to get a certain reality from them, he 
dreamed on, and let his new love irradiate his own life, 
like a man carrying a lantern on a dark path. There 
are those that are born to sunlit paths, and there are 
those whom a beneficent Providence has supplied with 
lanterns of compensation, and the latter are not always 
the unhappier nor the less progressive. Never admitting 
to himself the possibility of the actual presence of the 
girl in the house as his wife, he yet peopled the rooms 
with her. He rose up in spirit before her entering a door. 
There were especial nooks wherein his fancy could pro- 
ject her with such illusion that his heart would leap as 
if at the actual sight of her. In particular was there one 
window in the sitting-room which, being in a little 
projection of the house, overlooked a special little view 
of its own. From this window between the folds of the 
muslin curtains could be seen a file of blooming holly- 
hocks. Behind them a grassy expanse arose with a 
long ascent, and the rosette — like blossoms of pink and 
pale-gold, with gray-green bosses of leaves, lay against 
the green field like the design on a shield. 

In this window was an old-fashioned rocking-chair 
cushioned softly with faded, rose-patterned chintz, and 
before it stood always a small footstool covered with 
dim - brown canvas on which was a wreath of roses 
done in cross-stitch by his mother in her girlhood. 
Anderson loved to see Charlotte sitting in this chair 
with her feet on the footstool, her pretty head leaning 
back against the faded roses of the chintz, the delicate 
curve of her cheek towards him, as she swayed gently 
back and forth and seemed to gaze peacefully out of 
the window at the hollyhocks blooming against the 
green hill. It was characteristic of the man's dreams 
that the girl's face in them was turned a little from him. 

140 



THE DEBTOR 

She never saw him when he entered, she never broke 
the sweet silence of her own dreams within dreams, for 
him, and he never, even in dreams, touched the soft 
curve of that averted cheek, or even one of the little 
hands lying as lightly as flowers in her muslin lap. 
Anderson, the commonplace man in the grocery busi- 
ness, in the commonplace present, dreamed as rever- 
ently and spiritually of the lady of his love as Dante 
of his Beatrice, or Petrarch of his Laura. He would 
go down to the grave with his songs all unsung ; but the 
man was a poet, as are all who worship the god, and not 
the likeness of themselves in him. As Anderson sat on 
the porch that summer night, to his fancy Charlotte 
Carroll sat on the step above him. Without fairly 
looking he could see the sweep of her white draperies 
and the mild fairness, producing the effect of luminosity, 
of her face in the dusk. 

Then suddenly Charlotte herself dispelled the illusion. 
She passed by with her sister Ina and a young man. 
Anderson heard the low, sweet babble of girls' tongues 
and a hearty, boyish laugh before they came opposite 
the porch. He knew at once that Charlotte was one of 
the girls. He could not see them very plainly when 
they passed, for the moon had not yet risen and the 
shadows of the trees were dense. He had glimpses of 
pale contours and ruffling white draperies floating 
around the young man, who walked on the outside. 
He towered above them both with stately tenderness. 
He was smoking, and Anderson noted that with a throb 
of anger. He had an old-fashioned conviction that a 
man should not smoke when walking with ladies. He 
was sitting perfectly motionless when they came along- 
side, and all at once one of the girls, Ina, the eldest, 
perceived him, and started violently with an exclama- 
tion. All three laughed, and the young man said, 
raising his hat, " Good-evening, Mr. Anderson. " 

141 



THE DEBTOR 



Anderson returned the salutation. He thought, but 
was not quite sure, that Charlotte nodded. He heard, 
quite distinctly, Ina remark, when they were scarcely 
past, in a voice of girlish scorn and merry ridicule: 

"Is the grocer a friend of yours, Mr. Eastman ?" 

Anderson was sure that he heard a "Hush! he will 
hear you!" from Charlotte, before young Frank Eastman 
replied, like a man: 

"Yes, every time, Miss Carroll, if he will do me the 
honor to let me call him one. Mr. Anderson is a mighty 
fine gentleman." 

The girl's voice said something in response with a 
slightly abashed but still jibing inflection, but Ander- 
son could not catch it. They passed out of sight, the 
cigar-smoke lingering in their wake. Anderson inhaled 
it with no longer any feeling of disapprobation. He 
slowly lit a cigar himself, and smoked and meditated. 
The presence on the step above him was for the time 
dispelled by her own materiality. The dream eluded the 
substance. Anderson thought of the young man who 
had walked past with a curious feeling of something 
akin to gratitude. "Frank Eastman is a fine young 
fellow," he thought. He had known him ever since 
he had been a child. He had been one of the boys whom 
everybody knew and liked. He had grown up a village 
favorite. The thought flashed through Anderson's mind 
that here was a possible husband for Charlotte, and 
probably a good husband. 

" He is an only son," he told himself; "he will have a 
little money. He is as good as and better than young 
men average, and he is charming, a man to attract 
any girl." 

Anderson, when he had finished his cigar and one 
more, and had gone into the house to read a little before 
going to bed, quite decided that Charlotte Carroll was 
to marry young Frank Eastman. He walked remorse- 

142 



THE DEBTOR 



lessly over the step where his fancy had placed her, and 
when he glanced at her pretty little nook in the sitting- 
room, as he passed through with his lamp and his book, 
it was vacant. Anderson felt a rigid acquiescence, and 
read his book with interest until after midnight. 

In the mean time Charlotte, her sister Ina, and young 
Eastman sauntered slowly along through the shadowy 
streets of Banbridge. The girls held up their white 
gowns over their lace petticoats. They wore no hats, 
and their pretty, soft, dark locks floated like mist around 
their faces. The young man pressed Ina's arm as 
closely and lovingly as he dared. He was yet young 
enough and innocent enough to be in his heart of hearts 
as afraid of a girl as, when a child, he had been afraid 
of his mother. He thought Ina Carroll something 
wonderful; Charlotte he scarcely thought of at all 
except with vague approbation because she was Ina's 
sister. He took the girls into Andrew Drew's drug 
store for ice - cream soda. He watche'd, with happy 
proprietorship, the girls dally daintily with the long 
spoons in the sweet, cold mixture. Seen in the electric 
light of the store, they had a bewildering and fairly 
dazzling splendor of youth and bloom. Their faces, 
freshened to exquisite tints by the damp night air, 
shone forth from the floating film of dark hair with the 
unquestioning delight of the passing moment. There 
was in these young faces at the moment no shadow of 
the past or future. They were pure light. Young 
Eastman, eating his ice-cream, looked over his glass at 
Ina Carroll and realized the dazzle of her in his soul. 
She felt his look and smiled at him pleasantly, yet with 
a certain gay defiance. Charlotte caught both looks. 
She stirred her ice - cream briskly into the liquid and 
drank it. 

* ' Come, honey," she said to Ina. "It is time to go 
home." 



143 



THE DEBTOR 



A man stood near the door as they passed and raised 
his hat eagerly. 

"Who is that man?" Ina said to young Eastman 
when they were on the sidewalk. 

"His name is Lee." 

When the party had gone out, Lee turned with his 
self-conscious, consequential air. Ray, the postmaster, 
was standing at the counter. Little Willy Eddy also 
was there. He lingered about the soda-fountain. No- 
body knew how badly he wanted a drink of soda. He 
was like a child about it, but he was afraid lest his 
Minna should call him to account for the five cents. 

"Pretty fine-looking girls," observed Lee to Ray and 
Drew. 

"Yes," assented Ray. "You know them?" 

"Well, no, not directly, but Captain Carroll and I 
are quite intimate in a business way." 

The druggist looked up eagerly. "You think he is 
good ?" he asked. 

"I have heard some queer things lately," said the 
postmaster. 

Lee faced them both. "Good?" he cried. "Good? 
Arthur Carroll good? Why, I'd be willing to risk 
every dollar I have in the world, or ever hope to have. 
He's the smartest business man I ever saw in my life. 
I tell you he's A No. i. He's got a business head equal 
to any on the Street, I don't care who it is. Well, all I 
have to say, / am not afraid of him! No, sir!" 

" I heard he had some pretty promising stock to sell," 
said the postmaster. 

"Promising? No, it is not promising! Promising is 
not the word for it. It is sure, dead sure." 

Little Willy Eddy drew very near. 

"What is it selling at?" asked Ray. 

"One dollar and sixty cents," replied Lee, with an 
intonation of pride and triumph. 

144 



THE DEBTOR 



" Cheap enough, " said Ray. 

"Yes, sir, one dollar and sixty cents, and it will be 
up to five in six months and paying dividends, and up 
to fifty, with ten-per-cent. dividends, in a year and a 
half. 

Little Willy Eddy had in the savings - bank a little 
money. Before he left he had arranged with Henry 
Lee to invest it through his influence with the great 
man, Carroll, and say nothing about it to any one out- 
side. Willy hoped fondly that his Minna might know 
nothing about it until he should surprise her with the 
proceeds of his great venture. Then Willy Eddy marched 
boldly upon the soda-fountain. 

"Give me a chocolate ice-cream soda," he said, like a 
man. 



CHAPTER XIII 



Three days later, at dinner, Charlotte Carroll said 
something about the difficulty she had had about get- 
ting the check cashed. 

14 It is the queerest thing, " said she, in a lull of the 
conversation, pausing with her soup-spoon lifted, "how 
very difficult it is to get a check for even a small amount 
cashed in Banbridge." 

Carroll's spoon clattered against his plate. "What do 
you mean?" he asked, sharply. 

Charlotte looked at him surprised. "Why, nothing," 
said she, "only I went to every store in town to get your 
check for twenty-five dollars cashed, and then I had to 
go to Anderson's finally. I should think they must be 
very poor here. Are they, papa?" 

Carroll went on with his soup. "Who gave you the 
check to cash?" he said, in a low voice. 

"Aunt Anna," replied Charlotte. "Why?" 

Anna spoke quite eagerly, and it seemed apologeti- 
cally. "Arthur," said she, "the girls were very anxious 
to go to the City." 

" Yes," said Ina, " I really had to go that day. I wanted 
to get that silk. I had that charged ; there wasn't money 
enough ; but it has not come yet. I don't see where it is." 

"I let Charlotte take the check," Anna Carroll said 
again, still with an air of nervous apology, "but I saw 
no reason why — I thought — " 

"You thought what?" said Carroll. His voice was 
exceedingly low and gentle, but Anna Carroll started. 

146 



THE DEBTOR 



"Nothing," said she, hastily. "Nothing, Arthur. " 

"Well, I just went everywhere with it," Charlotte 
said again; "then I had to go to Anderson, after all. 
I just hated to. I don't like him. He laughed when 
Eddy and I went there to take back the candy." 

"He laughed because we took it back — a little thing 
like that," said Eddy. 

Carroll looked at him, and the boy cast his eyes down 
and took a spoonful of soup with an abashed air. 

"He was the only one in Banbridge that seemed to 
have as much as twenty-five dollars in his money- 
drawer, " said Charlotte. "IjDegan to think that Ina 
and I should have to give up going to New York." 

"Don't take any more checks around the shops here 
to cash, honey," said Carroll. "Come to me; I'll fix it 
up some way. Amy, dear, are you all ready for the 
drive?" 

"Yes, dear," said Mrs. Carroll. She looked unusually 
pretty that night in a mauve gown of some thin, soft, 
wool material, with her old amethysts. Even her dark 
hair seemed to get amethystine shadows, and her eyes, 
too. 

Carroll regarded her admiringly. 

"Amy, darling, you do get lovelier every day," he 
said. 

The others laughed and echoed him with fond merri- 
ment. 

"Doesn't she?" said Ina. 

"Amy's the prettiest girl in this old town," said Eddy, 
and all the Carrolls laughed like children. 

"Well, I'm glad you all admire me so much," Mrs. 
Carroll said, in her sweet drawl, "because — " 

"Because what, honey?" said Carroll. The boy and 
the two girls looked inquiringly, but Anna Carroll 
smiled with slightly vexed knowledge. 

"Well," said Mrs. Carroll, "you must all look at me 
147 



THE DEBTOR 



in my purple gown and get all the comfort you can out 
of it; you must nourish yourselves through your aesthetic 
sense, because this soup is all you will get for dinner, 
except dessert. There is a little dessert." 

Poor little Eddy Carroll made a slight, half-smothered 
exclamation. "Oh, shucks!" he said, then he laughed 
with the others. Xone of them looked surprised. They 
all laughed, though somewhat ruefully. 

"Anna came this forenoon and asked me what she 
should do," Mrs. Carroll said, in her soft tone of childlike 
glee, as if she really enjoyed the situation. " Poor 
Anna looked annoyed. This country air makes Anna 
hungry. Xow, as for me, I am not hungry at all. If 
I can have fruit and salad I am quite satisfied. It is so 
fortunate that we have those raspberries and those 
early pears. Those little pears are quite delicious, and 
they are nourishing, I am sure. And then it is provi- 
dential that we have lettuce in our own garden. And 
the grocer did not object in the least to letting last 
week's bill run and letting us have olive-oil and vinegar. 
I have plenty, so I can regard it all quite cheerfully; 
but Anna, poor darling, is hungry like a pussy-cat for 
real, solid meat. Well, Anna comes, face so long" — ■ 
Mrs. Carroll drew down her lovely face, to a chorus of 
admiring laughter, Anna Carroll herself joining. Mrs. 
Carroll continued. "Yes, so long," and made her face 
long again by way of encore. "And I said, 'Why, 
Anna, honey, what is the matter?' 'Amy,' said she, 
4 this is serious, very serious. Why, neither the butcher 
nor the egg-man will trust us. We have only money 
enough to part pay one of them, just to keep them 
going,' says she, ' and what shall I do, Amy ?' ' It's either 
to go without meat or eggs,' says I. ' Yes, Amy, honey,' 
says she. ' And you can't pay them each a little ?' says I, 
1 for I am real wise about that way of doing, you know.' M 
Mrs. Carroll said the last with the air of a precocious 

148 



THE DEBTOR 



child; she looked askance for admiration as she said it, 
and laughed herself with the others. "'No,' says poor 
Anna — 'no, Amy, there is not enough money for two 
littles, only enough for one little. What shall we do, 
Amy?' 'Well,' says Amy, 'we had chops for lunch/ 
'Those aren't paid for, and that is the reason we can't 
have beef for dinner,' says Anna. 'Well,' says Amy, 
'we had those chops, didn't we? And the butcher 
can't alter that, anyway; and we are all nourished by 
those chops, and dear Arthur has had his good luncheon 
in the City, and there is soup-stock in the house, and 
things to make one of those delicious raspberry-pud- 
dings, and we cannot starve, we poor but honest Car- 
rolls, on those things; and eggs are cheaper, are they 
not, honey, dear?' 'Yes,' says Anna, with that sort of 
groan she has when her mind is on economy — 'yes, 
Amy, dear.' 'And,' says I, 'Arthur always wants his 
eggs for breakfast, and he does not like cold meat in 
trie morning, and if he went to business without his 
eggs, and there was an accident on his empty stomach, 
only think how we would feel, Anna. So we will have,' 
says Amy, 'soup and pudding for dinner, and eggs for 
breakfast, and we will part pay the egg-man and not the 
butcher/ And then Amy puts on her new gown and 
does all she can for her family, to make up for the lack 
of the roast. 

" Did you say it was raspberry -pudding, Amy ?" asked 
Eddy, anxiously. 

"Yes, honey, with plenty of sauce, and you may have 
some twice if you want it." 

"Ring the bell, dear," said Carroll. 

"You don't mind, Arthur, do you?" Mrs. Carroll 
asked, with a confident look at him. 

Carroll smiled. "No, darling, only I hope none of 
you are really going hungry." 

They all laughed at him. "Soup and pudding are all 
149 



THE DEBTOR 



one ought to eat in such hot weather," Charlotte said, 
conclusively. 

She even jumped up, ran to her father, and threw 
her arms around his neck and kissed him, to reassure 
him. " You darling papa," she whispered in his ear, 
and when he looked at her tears shone in her beautiful 
eyes. 

Carroll's own face turned strangely sober for a second, 
then he laughed. "Run back to your seat and get your 
pudding, sweetheart," he said, with a loving push, as the 
maid entered. 

People thought it rather singular that the Carrolls 
should have but one maid, but there were reasons. Car- 
roll himself, when he first organized his Banbridge estab- 
lishment, had expressed some dissent as to the solitary 
servant. 

"Why not have more?" he asked, but Anna Carroll 
was unusually decided in her response. 

"Amy and I have been talking it over, Arthur," said 
she, "and we have decided that we would prefer only 
Marie." 

" Why, Anna?" Carroll had asked, with a frown. 

"Now, Arthur, dear, don't look cross," his wife had 
cried. "It is only that when the truce is over with the 
butcher and baker — and after a while the truce always 
is over, you know, you poor, dear boy, ever since you — 
ever since you were so badly treated about your business, 
you know, and when the butcher and the baker turn on 
us, Anna and I have decided it would be better not to 
have a trust in the kitchen. You know there has al- 
ways been a trust in the kitchen, and two or even three 
maids saying they will not make bread and roast and 
wash the dishes, and having a council of war on the back 
stoop with the baker and grocer, are so much worse than 
one maid, don't you know, precious?" 

"The long and the short of it is, Arthur," Anna 
150 



THE DEBTOR 



Carroll said, quite bluntly, "it is much less wearing to 
get on with one maid who has not had her wages, and 
much easier to induce her to remain or forfeit all hope 
of ever receiving them, than with more than one." 

Only the one maid was engaged, and now Anna's 
prophecy had come to pass, and she was remaining for 
the sake of her unpaid wages. She was a young girl, 
and pretty for one of her sisterhood, who perpetuate, 
as a rule, the hard and strenuous lineaments and forms 
held to hard labor, until they have attained a squat 
solidity of ungraceful muscle. This little Hungarian 
Marie was still not overdeveloped muscularly, although 
one saw her hands with a certain shock after her little, 
smiling face, which still smiled, despite her wrongs. 
Nothing could exceed the sweetness of the girl's dis- 
position, although she came of a fierce peasant line, 
quick to resort to the knife as a redresser of injuries, and 
quick to perceive injuries. 

Marie still danced assiduously about her tasks, which 
were manifold, for not one of the Carroll women had 
the slightest idea of any accountability in the matter of 
household labor. It never occurred to one of them to 
make her bed, or even hang up her dress, but, instead, to 
wonder why Marie did not do it. However, if Marie real- 
ly had an ill day, or, as sometimes happened, was up all 
night at a ball, they never rebelled or spoke an impa- 
tient word. The beds simply remained unmade and the 
dresses where they had fallen. The ladies always had 
a kindly, ever-caressing smile or word for little Marie. 
They were actually, in a way, fond of her, as people are 
fond of a pretty little domestic beast of burden, and 
Marie herself adored them. She loved them from afar, 
and one of her great reasons for wishing to stay for her 
wages was to buy some finery after the fashion of Char- 
lotte's and Ina's. Marie had not asked for her wages 
many times, and never of Captain Carroll, but to-night 
ii 151 



THE DEBTOR 

she took courage. There was a ball that week, Thurs- 
day, and her poor, little, cheap muslin of last season was 
bedraggled and faded until it was no longer wearable. 
Marie waylaid Captain Carroll as he was returning from 
the stable, whither he had been to see a lame foot of one 
of the horses. Marie stood in her kitchen door, around 
which was growing lustily a wild cucumber-vine. She 
put her two coarse hands on her hips, which were large 
with the full gathers of her cotton skirt. Around her 
neck was one of the garish-colored kerchiefs which had 
come with her from her own country. It was an ugly 
thing, but gave a picturesque bit of color to her other- 
wise dingy garb. 

"Mr. Captain,'' said Marie, in a very small, sweet, 
almost infantile voice. It was frightened, yet with a 
certain coquetry in it. This small Hungarian girl had 
met with very few looks and words in her whole life 
which were not admiring. In spite of her poor estate 
she had the power of the eternal feminine, and she used 
it knowingly, but quite artlessly. She knew exactly 
how to speak to her "Mr. Captain," in such a way that a 
smile in response would be inevitable. 

Carroll stopped. "Well, Marie?" he said, and he 
smiled down into the little face precisely after the 
manner of her calculation. 

"Mr. Captain," said she again, and again came the 
feeler after a smile, the expression of droll sweetness 
and appeal which forced it. 

"Well, Marie," said Carroll, "what is it? What do 
you want?" 

Marie went straight to the point. "Mine vages," 
said she, and a bit of the coquetry faded, and her small 
smile waxed rather piteous. She wanted that new 
dress for the ball sadly. 

Carroll's face changed; he compressed his mouth. 
Marie shrank a little with frightened eyes on his face. 

152 



THE DEBTOR 



"How much is it, Marie?" asked Carroll. 

"Tree mont vage, Mr. Captain," answered Marie, 
eagerly, "I haf not had." 

Carroll took out his pocket-book and gave her a ten- 
dollar note. 

Marie reached out for it eagerly, but her face fell a 
little. "It is tree mont, Mr. Captain," she ventured. 

"That is all I can spare to-night, Marie," said Carroll, 
quite sternly. "That will have to answer to-night." 

Marie smiled again, eying him timidly. "Yes, it will 
my dress get for the ball, Mr. Captain." 

Marie stood framed in her wild cucumber-vine, re- 
garding the captain with her pretty ingratiation, but 
not another smile she got. Carroll strolled around to 
the front of the house, and in a second the carriage 
rolled around from the stable. Marie nodded to the 
coachman; there was never a man of her acquaintance 
but she had a pretty, artless salutation always ready for 
him. She shook her ten-dollar note triumphantly at 
him, and laughed with delight. 

"Got money," said she. Marie had a way of ending 
up her words, especially those ending in y, as if she fin- 
ished them up with a kiss. She pursed up her lips, and 
gave a most fascinating little nip to her vowels, which, 
as a rule, she sounded short. "Money," said she again, 
and the ten-dollar note fluttered like a green leaf from 
between the large thumb and forefinger of her coarse 
right hand. 

The coachman laughed back in sympathy. He was 
still smiling when he drove up beside his employer at 
the front-door. He leaned from his seat just as the 
flutter of the ladies' dresses appeared at the front-door, 
and said something to Carroll, with a look of pleased 
expectation. That money in Marie's hand had cheered 
him on his own account. 

Carroll looked at him gently imperturbable. "I am 
153 



THE DEBTOR 



sorry, Martin. I shall be obliged to ask you to wait a 
few days," he said, with the utmost courtesy. 

The man's honest, confident face fell. " You said — " 
he began. 

"What did I say?" Carroll asked, calmly. 

"You said you would let me have some to-night." 

"Yes, I remember," Carroll said, "but I have had an 
unexpected demand since I returned from the City, 
and it has taken every cent of ready money. I must 
ask you to wait a few days longer. You are not in 
serious need of anything, Martin?" 

"No, sir," said the man, hesitatingly. 

"I was going to say that if you were needing any 
little thing you might make use of my credit," said 
Carroll. As the ladies, Mrs. Carroll and Miss Carroll, 
came up to the carriage, Carroll thrust his hand in his 
pocket and drew forth a couple of cigars, which he hand- 
ed to the coachman with a winning expression. "Here 
are a couple of cigars for you, Martin," he said. 

"Thank you, sir," replied the coachman. 

He put the cigars in his pocket and took up the lines. 
As he drove down the drive and along the shady Ban- 
bridge road he was wondering hard if Marie had got the 
money which Carroll had intended to pay him. He 
did not mind so much if she had it. Marie was Hun- 
garian, and Martin had not much use for outlandish 
folk on general principles, but he had a sneaking ad- 
miration for little Marie. "Now she can go to her 
ball," thought he. Marie said the word as if it had one 
1 and a short a — bal. Martin smiled inwardly at the 
recollection, though he did not allow his face of im- 
portant dignity to relax. 

He thought, further, that, after all, he need not worry 
about his own pay. Carroll had paid Marie and would 
pay him. He thought comfortably of the cigars, which 
were sure to be good. His original respect and admira- 

i54 



THE DEBTOR 



tion for his employer swelled high in his heart. He felt 
quite happy driving his high-stepping horses over the 
good road. The conversation of the ladies at his back, 
and of Carroll at his side, passed his ears, trained not to 
hear, as unintelligibly as the babble of the birds. Martin 
had no curiosity. 

While their elders were driving, the Carroll sisters 
and the brother were all out on the front porch. Ina 
was rocking in a rattan chair, Charlotte sat on the 
highest step of the porch leaning against a fluted 
white pillar, the boy sprawled miserably on the lowest 
step. 

"It's awful dull, ,, he complained. 

Charlotte looked down at him commiseratingly from 
her semicircle of white muslin flounces. "I'll play ball 
with you awhile, Eddy, dear," said she. 

The boy sniffed. "Don't want to play ball with a 
girl," he replied. 

Charlotte said nothing. 

Eddy twitched with his face averted. Then suddenly 
he looked up at his sister. " Charlotte, I love to play 
ball with you," said he, sweetly, "only, you see, I can't 
pitch hard enough, your hands are so awful soft, and I 
feel like I could pitch awful hard to-night." 

"Well, I tell you what you may do, dear," said Ina. 

"What?" 

"Go down to the post-office and get the last mail." 

Eddy started up with alacrity. "All right," said he. 

"And you may run up-stairs to my room," said Char- 
lotte, "and hunt round till you find my purse, and get 
out ten cents and buy yourself an ice-cream." 

Eddy was up and out with a whoop. 

"Are you expecting a letter, honey?" asked Charlotte 
of her sister. 

Ina laughed evasively. "I thought Eddy would like 
to go," said she. 

i5S 



THE DEBTOR 



"Now, Ina, I know whom you are expecting a letter 
from; you can't cheat me." 

Ina laughed rather foolishly; her face was pink. 

Charlotte continued to regard her with a curious ex- 
pression. It was at once sad, awed, and withal con- 
fused, in sympathy with the other girl. "Ina," said 
she. 

"Well, honey?" 

"I think you ought to tell me, your own sister, if you 
are—" 

"What—" 

"Ina, I really think—" 

"Oh, hush, dear!" Ina whispered. "Here comes Mr. 
Eastman." 

Young Frank Eastman, in his light summer clothes, 
came jauntily around the curve of the drive, his straw 
hat in hand, and the sisters fluttered to their feet to 
greet him. Then Eddy reappeared with the dime 
securely clutched, and inquired anxiously of Charlotte 
if she cared whether he bought soda or candy with it. 
Young Eastman ran after him down the walk and had 
a whispered conference. When the boy returned, 
which was speedily, he had a letter for his sister Ina and 
a box of the most extravagant candy which Banbridge 
afforded. The young people sat chatting and laughing 
and nibbling sweets until nearly ten o'clock. Then 
young Eastman took his leave. 

He was rather desirous to be gone before Captain 
Carroll returned. Although Carroll always treated him 
with the most punctilious courtesy, even going out of 
his way to speak to him, the young man always felt a 
curious discomfort, as if he realized some covert dis- 
approbation on the elder's part. 

" They are late," Ina said, after the caller's light coat 
had disappeared behind the shrubbery. 

"I suppose they waited for the moon to rise," Char- 

156 



THE DEBTOR 



lotte replied. "You know Amy dearly loves to drive 
by moonlight.' ' 

"Well, let's go to bed, and not wait," Ina said, with a 
yawn. "I'm so sleepy." She had sat with her letter 
unopened in her lap all evening. 

"All right," assented Charlotte. 

"I'm going to sit here till they come," said Eddy. 

"Very well," said Charlotte, "but mind you don't 
stir off the porch." 

The two girls went up to their own rooms. They 
occupied adjoining ones. Charlotte slept in a small 
room out of the larger one which was Ina's. 

Charlotte came in from her room brushing out her 
hair, and Ina was reading her letter. She looked up 
with a blushing confusion and crumpled the paper in- 
voluntarily. 

"Oh, you needn't start so," said Charlotte. "I know 
whom the letter is from. It's that old Major Arms." 

" He is not old. He is no older than papa, and you 
don't call him old," Ina retorted, resentfully. 

"I don't call him old for a father, but I would for — " 

"Well, he isn't a— yet." 

"Ina, you ought to tell me." 

"Well, I'm going to marry Major Arms, so there!" 
"Oh, Ina!" 

The two girls stood staring at each other for a mo- 
ment, then they ran to each other. "Oh, Charlotte! 
oh, Charlotte!" sobbed Ina, convulsively. 

"Oh, Ina! oh, honey!" 

" I'm going to, Charlotte. Oh, I am going to!" 

"Ina, do you, do you — " 

"What?" 

"Love that old Major Arms?" Charlotte spoke out, 
in a tone of almost horror. 

"I don't know. Oh, I don't know," sobbed Ina. 
"Ina, you don't love — Mr. Eastman better?" 
157 



THE DEBTOR 



"No, I don't," replied Ina, in a tone of utter convic- 
tion. "Charlotte, do you know what would happen if I 
married Mr. Eastman? Do you?" 

"No, I don't." 

"All my life long I would be at war with the butcher 
and baker, just as — just as we always are." 

" Ina Carroll, you aren't getting married just for that ? 
Oh, that is dreadful!" 

"No, I am not," said Ina. "You call Major Arms 
old, and you don't see — you don't see how a girl can ever 
fall in love with him, but — I think he's splendid. Yes, 
I do. You can laugh, Charlotte, but I do. And it is a 
good deal to marry a man you can honestly say you 
think is splendid! But you can do a thing, for a very 
good, even a noble reason, and all the time know there is 
another reason not quite so noble, that you can't help 
but take some comfort in. And that is the way I do with 
this. Charlotte, poor papa does just the best he can, 
and there never was a man like him; Major Arms isn't 
anything in comparison with papa. I never thought 
he was, but there is one thing I am very tired of in 
this world, and I can't help thinking with a good 
deal of pleasure that when I am married I will be free 
from it." 

"What is that, honey?" The two girls had sat down 
on Ina's window-seat, and were nestling close together, 
with their arms around each other's waist, and the two 
streams of dark hair intermingling. 

"I am heartily tired," said Ina, in a tone of impa- 
tient scorn, "of this everlasting annoyance to which 
we are subjected from the people who want us to pay 
them money for the necessaries of life. We must have 
a certain amount of things in order to live at all, and if 
people must have the money for them, I want them to 
have it, and not have to endure such continual persecu- 
tion." 

158 



THE DEBTOR 



"Ina," said Charlotte, in a piteous, low voice, "do 
you think papa is very poor?" 

"Yes, honey, I am afraid he is very poor." 

Charlotte began to weep softly against her sister's 
shoulder. 

"Don't cry, honey," soothed Ina. "You can come 
and stay with me a great deal, you know." 

"Ina Carroll, do you think I would leave papa?" 
demanded Charlotte, suddenly erect. "Do you think — 
I would ? You can, if you want to, but I will not." 

"It costs something to support us, dear," said Ina. 
"Don't be angry, precious." 

"I will never have another new dress in all my life," 
said Charlotte. "I won't eat anything. I tell you I 
never will leave papa, Ina Carroll." 



CHAPTER XIV 



It was about a week later when Anderson, going into 
the drug store one evening, found young Eastman in 
the line in front of the soda-fountain. A girl in white 
was with him, and Anderson thought at first glance that 
she was Charlotte Carroll, as a matter of course — he had 
so accustomed himself to think of the two in union by 
this time. Then he looked again and saw that the girl 
was much larger and fair-haired, and recognized her as 
Bessy Van Dorn, William Van Dorn's daughter. The 
girl's semi-German parentage showed in her complexion 
and high-bosomed, matronly figure, although she was 
so young. She had a large but charming face, full of 
the sweetest placidity; her eyes, as blue as the sky, 
looked out upon the world with amiable assent to all 
its conditions. It required no acuteness to predict 
this as an ideal spouse for a man of a nervous and irri- 
table temperament; that there was in her nature that 
which could supply cushioned fulnesses to all the ex- 
actions of his. She sat on a high stool and sipped her 
ice-cream soda with simple absorption in the pleasant 
sensation. She paid no attention whatever to her es- 
cort beside her, who took his soda with his eyes fixed 
on her. Her chin overlapping in pink curves like a 
rose, was sunken in the lace at her neck as she sipped. 
She did not sit straight, but rested in her corsets with 
an awkward lassitude of enjoyment. It was a very 
warm night, but she paid no attention to that. She 
was without a hat, and the beads of perspiration stood 

1 60 



THE DEBTOR 

all over her pink forehead, and her thin white muslin 
clung to her plump neck and arms. There was some- 
thing almost indecent about the girl's enjoyment of her 
soda. Hardly a man in the shop but was watching her. 
Anderson gazed at her also, but with covert disgust and 
a resentment which was absurd. He scowled at the 
young fellow with her. He felt like a father whose 
daughter has been flouted by the man of her choice. 
"What the devil does the boy mean, taking soda here 
with that Van Dorn girl?" he asked himself. He felt 
like a reckoning with him, and chafed at the impossi- 
bility of it. When the couple rose to go Anderson met 
the young man's salutation with such a surly response 
and such a stern glance that he fairly started. The 
men stared as the two went out, their shoulders touching 
as they passed through the door. The girl was round- 
shouldered from careless standing, but she moved with 
a palpitating grace of yielding, and the smooth, fair 
braids which bound her head shone like silver. 

"Guess that's a go," a man said, with a chuckle; "a 
narrower door would have suited them just as well" 

"Mighty good-looking girl," said Amidon. 

"Healthy girl," said another. "If more young fel- 
lows had the horse-sense to marry girls like that, I'd 
give up medicine and go on a ranch." The Banbridge 
doctor said that. He was rather young, and had been 
in the village about five years. He had taken the 
practice of an old physician, a distant relative who had 
died six months before. Dr. Wilson was called a re- 
markably able man in his profession. He had been 
having several prescriptions filled, and kept several 
waiting. He was a large man with a coarsely handsome 
physique and a brutal humor with women. He was 
not liked personally, but the people rather bragged 
about their great physician and were proud when he 
was called to the towns round about, 

161 



THE DEBTOR 



" There's no getting Dr. Wilson, for a certainty, he 
has such an enormous practice!" they said, with pride. 

41 That girl is as handsome and healthy as an Alderney 
cow," he added, now, and the men laughed. 

" She's a stunner," said Amidon. 

Anderson went out abruptly without waiting to make 
his purchase. He felt as repelled as only a man of his 
temperament can feel. No woman could equal his 
sense of utter disgust, first with the quite innocent girl 
herself, next with the young physician for his insistence 
upon the subject. His wrath against young Eastman, 
his unreasoning and ridiculous wrath, swelled high as 
he dwelt upon the outrage of his desertion of a girl like 
his little Charlotte, that little creature of fire and dew, 
for this full-blown rose of a woman — the outrage to her 
and to himself. When he got home, his mother inquired 
anxiously what the matter was. 

" Nothing, dear," he replied, brusquely. 

"You look as if something worried you," said she. 
She had been taking a little evening toddle on her tiny, 
slippered feet out in the old-fashioned flower-garden 
beside the house, and she had a little bunch of sweet 
herbs, which she dearly loved, in her hand. She fast- 
ened a sprig of thyme in his coat as she stood talking to 
him, and the insistent odor seemed as real as a presence 
when he breathed. "Nothing has gone wrong with 
your business, has there?" she inquired, lovingly. 

"No, mother," he replied, and moved away from her 
gently, with the fragrance of the thyme strong in his 
consciousness. 

His mother put her sweet nosegay in water. Then 
she went to bed, and Anderson sat on the stoop. Young 
Eastman and the Van Dorn girl passed after he sat 
there, and he thought with a loving passion of pro- 
tection of poor little Charlotte alone at home. "I'll 
warrant the poor child is watching for that good-for- 

162 



THE DEBTOR 



nothing scoundrel this minute, " he told himself. He 
would have liked to knock young Eastman down; it 
would have delighted his soul to kick him ; he would have 
given a good deal to have had him at the top of the 
steps. 

The weather was intensely warm. He heard his 
mother fling her bedroom blinds wide open to catch all 
the air. The sky was clear, but all along the northwest 
horizon was a play of lightning from a far-distant storm. 

Anderson lit another cigar. The night seemed to grow 
more and more oppress ve. When a breath of wind came, 
it was like a hot breath of some fierce sentiency. A dis- 
agreeable odor from something was also borne upon it. 
The odors of the flowers seemed in abeyance. The play 
of blue-and-rosy light along the northwest horizon con- 
tinued. Anderson got a certain pleasure from watching 
it. Nature's spectacularity diverted him, as if he had 
been a child, from his own affairs, which seemed to give 
him a dull pain. Between the flashes he asked himself 
why. 

"It is just right, " he told himself; "just what I de- 
sired. Why do I feel this way?" 

Presently he decided with self-deception that it was 
because of the recent scene in the drug store. He re- 
membered quite distinctly the young man's gaze at the 
stout, blue-eyed girl. "What right had the fellow to 
look at another girl after that fashion?" he said to him- 
self. Then it struck him suddenly as being perhaps 
impossible for him ever to look at Charlotte in just that 
fashion. He thought with a thrill of indignant pride 
that there was a maiden who would have the best of 
love as her right. Then sitting there he heard a quick 
tread and a trill of whistle as meaningless as that of a 
robin, and young Eastman himself came alongside. He 
stopped before the gate. 

"Hullo!" he said, suddenly. 

163 



THE DEBTOR 



" Hullo !" responded Anderson. 
"Got a match ?" said Eastman. 
"Sure." 

Eastman sprang up the steps until he came in reach 
of Anderson's proffered handful of matches. " Hotter 'n 
blazes," he remarked, as he scratched a match on his 
trousers leg. 

" Hottest night of the season so far, I think," respond- 
ed Anderson. 

"I'm about beat out with it," said Eastman, lighting 
his cigar with no difficulty in the dead atmosphere. 
He threw himself sprawling on the step at Anderson's 
feet, without any invitation. "Whew!" he sighed. 

"It '11 be hotter than hades in the City to-morrow," 
he remarked, after a moment's silence. 

Anderson muttered an assent. He was considering 
as nervously as a woman whether he should say anything 
to this boy. While he was hesitating, young Eastman 
himself led up to it. 

" Saw you in the drug store just now," he remarked. 

44 Yes; you were with — " 

"Bessy Van Dorn — yes. Pretty girl?" Eastman 
spoke with the insufferable air of patronizing criticism 
of extreme masculine youth towards the opposite sex. 

"Very," replied Anderson, dryly. 

The young fellow gave a furious puff at his cigar. The 
smoke came full in Anderson's face. "Passed here 
the other evening with two other young ladies while 
you were sitting here," young Eastman remarked, in a 
curious tone. It was full of pain, but it had a reckless, 
devil-may-care defiance in it also. 

"Yes," said Anderson, "I think you did. About a 
week ago, wasn't it?" 

"Week ago yesterday. Well, I suppose you've heard 
the news. It's all over town." 

"You mean — " 

164 



THE DEBTOR 



" She's engaged." 

Anderson felt bewildered. "Yes?" he replied, ques- 
tioningly. 

"She's engaged," the young fellow repeated, with 
a sobbing sigh, which he ended in a laugh. "They all 
do it, sir." 

Anderson was too puzzled to say anything. 

"Suppose you've heard about the man?" said East- 
man, in a nonchalant voice. He inhaled the smoke 
from his cigar with an air of abstract enjoyment. 

Anderson unassumedly stared at him. "Why, I 
thought it was — " 

"Who?" asked the young fellow, eagerly. 

Anderson hesitated. 

"Who did you think it was?" Eastman persisted. 
He had a pitiful wistfulness in his face upturned to the 
older man. It became quite evident that he had a 
desire to hear himself named as the accepted suitor. 

"Why, I thought that you were the man!" Anderson 
answered. 

"Everybody thought so, I guess," the young fellow 
said, with an absurd and childlike pride in the sem- 
blance in the midst of his grief over the reality. " But — " 
He hesitated, and Anderson waited, looking above at 
the play of lightning in the sky and smoking. "She's 
gone and got engaged to a man old enough to be her 
father. Lord! I guess he's older than her father — old 
enough to be her grandfather!" cried the young fellow, 
with a burst of grief and rage and shame. "Yes, sir, 
old enough to be her grandfather," he repeated. His 
voice shook. His cigar had gone out. He struck a 
match and the head flew off. He swore softly and struck 
another. Sometimes a match refusing to ignite changes 
mourning to wrath and rebellion. The third match 
broke short in two and the burning head flew down on 
the sidewalk. " Wish I had hold of the man that made 

165 



THE DEBTOR 



'em/' young Eastman said, viciously; and in the same 
breath: "What can the girl be thinking of, that she 
flings herself away like that ? Hang it all, is a woman a 
devil or a fool?" 

Anderson removed his cigar long enough to ask a 
question, then replaced it. "Who is the man?" he 
inquired, in a slow, odd voice. 

"Oh, he is an old army officer, a major — Major Arms, 
I believe his name is. He's somebody they've known a 
long time. He lives in Kentucky, I believe, in the same 
place where the Carrolls used to live and where she went 
to school. Oh, it's a good match. They're just tickled 
to death over it. Her sister feels rather bad, I guess, 
but, Lord! she'd do the same thing herself, if she got 
the chance. They're all alike." •The boy said the last 
with a cynical bitterness beyond his years. He sneered 
effectively. He crossed one leg over the other and 
puffed his relighted cigar. The last match had ignited. 
Anderson said nothing. He was accommodating his 
ideas to the change of situation. Presently young 
Eastman spoke again. "Well," he said, in a tone of 
wretched conceit, "girls are as thick as flowers, after all, 
and a lot alike. Bessy Van Dorn is a beauty, isn't 
she?" 

" I don't think she's much like the other," said Ander- 
son, shortly. 

"She's full as pretty." 
Anderson made no reply. 

"I don't believe Bessy would go and marry a man 
old enough to be her grandfather," said the boy, with a 
burst of piteous challenge. Then suddenly he tossed 
his cigar into the street and flung up his hands to his 
head with a despairing gesture. "Oh, my God!" he 
groaned. 

"Be a man," Anderson said, in a kind voice. 
"I am a man, ain't I ? What do you suppose I care 
166 



THE DEBTOR 



about it ? I don't want to marry and settle down yet, 
anyway. I like to fool with the girls, but as for any- 
thing else — I am a — man. If you think I am broken 
up over this, if anybody thinks I am — Lord — " The 
young fellow rose and squared his shoulders. He 
looked down at Anderson. " There's one thing I want 
to say," he added. "I don't want you to think — I 
don't want to give the impression that she — that she 
has been flirting, or anything like that. She hasn't. 
Of course she might have been a little franker, I will 
admit that, for I have been there a good deal, but I 
don't suppose she thought it was anything serious, and 
it wasn't. She was right. But she did not flirt. Those 
girls are not that sort. Great Scott! I should like to 
see a man venture on any little familiarities with them — 
holding hands, or a kiss, or anything. They respect 
themselves, those girls do. They have been brought 
up better than the Banbridge girls. Oh no, she hasn't 
treated me badly or anything, and of course I don't care 
a damn about her getting married, only I'll be hanged 
if I like, on general principles, to see a pretty young girl 
throwing herself away on a man old enough to be her 
father. It's wrong — it's indecent, you know." Again 
the boy's voice seemed bursting with wrath and grief 
and shame. 

Anderson rose, went into the house, and was out again 
in a few seconds. He had a cigar-box in his hand. 
"Try one of these," he said. "It's a brand new to me, 
and I think it fine. I think you'll agree with me." 

"Thanks," said Eastman, with a sound in his voice 
like a heart-broken child's. He almost sobbed, but 
he took the cigar gratefully. "Well, I must be going," 
he said. "Mother '11 wonder where I am. It was too 
deuced hot to go to bed, so I've been strolling around. 
But I've got to turn in sometime. These nights are 
too hot to sleep, anyhow." 

12 167 



THE DEBTOR 



"Yes, they are pretty tough," said Anderson. "Wish 
we could have a shower." 

"So do I. Say, this cigar is a dandy." 

"I thought you'd like it. Of course it isn't a cigar 
that everybody would like. It requires some taste, 
perhaps a cultivated taste." 

"Yes, that's so," replied the boy, with a pleased air. 
"I guess it does. I shouldn't say every man would ap- 
preciate this." 

"Have another," said Anderson, and he pressed a 
couple into the hot young hand, which was greedily 
reached out for a little solace for its owner's wounded 
heart and self-love. 

"Thanks. I suppose I have quite a good taste for a 
good cigar. I don't believe it would be very easy to 
palm off & cheap grade on me. Good-night, Mr. Ander- 
son." 

"Good-night," said Anderson, and was conscious of 
pity and amusement as the boy went away and his foot- 
steps died out of hearing. As for himself, he was in 
much the same case as before, only the time had evi- 
dently arrived for him to dismiss his dreams and the 
lady of them. He did not think so hardly of her for 
being willing to marry the older man as the disappointed 
young man did. He considered himself as compara- 
tively old, and he had a feeling of sympathy for the other 
old fellow who doubtless loved her. He was prepared 
to think that she had done a wiser thing than to engage 
herself to young Eastman, especially if the man was 
rich enough to take care of her. The position would be 
good, too. He thought generously of that consideration, 
although it touched him in his tenderest spot of vanity. 
"She will do well to marry an ex - army officer," he 
thought. "She will have the entree to any society." 
Presently he arose and went up-stairs to bed. He 
passed roughly by the nook where he had so often 

168 



THE DEBTOR 



fancied her sitting, and closed, as it were, the door of 
his fancy against her with a bang. He set a lamp on a 
table at the head of his bed and read his political econo- 
my until dawn. It was, in fact, too hot for any nervous 
person to sleep. Now and then his thoughts wandered, 
the incessant drone of the night insects outside seemed 
to distract his attention from his book like some per- 
sistent clamor of nature recalling him to his leading- 
strings in which she had held him from the first. But 
resolutely he turned again to his book. At dawn he 
fell asleep, and woke an hour later to another steaming 
day. 



CHAPTER XV 



"I think we shall have thunder-showers to-day/' 
Mrs. Anderson remarked, as she poured the coffee at the 
breakfast-table. Even this old gentlewoman, carefully 
attired in her dainty white lawn wrapper, had that 
slightly dissipated, bewildered, and rancorous air that 
extreme heat is apt to impart to the finest-grained of us. 
Her fair old face had a glossy flush, her white hair, 
which usually puffed with a soft wave over her temples, 
was stringy. She allowed her wrapper to remain open 
at the neck, exposing her old throat, and dispensed 
with her usual swathing of lace. She confessed that she 
had not been able to sleep at all ; still she kept her trust 
in Providence, and would scarcely admit to discomfort. 
"I am sure there will be showers, and cool the air," 
she said, with her sweet optimism. As she spoke she 
fanned herself with the great palm-leaf fan with a green 
bow on the stem, which she was never without during 
this weather. "It is certainly very warm so early in 
the season. One must feel it a little, but it is al- 
ways so delightful after a shower that it compen- 
sates. 99 

"You are showing a lovely Christian spirit, mother," 
Anderson returned, smiling at her with fond amuse- 
ment, "but don't be hypocritical." 

"My son, what do you mean?" 

"Mother, dear, you don't really like this weather. 
You only pretend to because man did not make it." 
"Randolph!" 

170 



THE DEBTOR 



"Only think how you would growl if the mayor and 
aldermen, or even the president, made this weather!" 

"My son, they did not," Mrs. Anderson responded, 
solemnly. 

"No, and that settles it, I suppose. If they did, you 
would say at once they ought to be forced to resign from 
their offices. Now, mother, be resigned all you like, 
but don't be pleased, for you can't cheat the Providence 
that made this beastly heat, and must know perfectly 
well how beastly it is, better than you or I do, and won't 
think any more of us for any pretence in the matter." 

"You shock me, dear. And, besides, I did not say 
that I liked it. I said I liked the weather after a shower. 
You look pale this morning, dear, and you don't talk 
quite like yourself. I do wish you would take an um- 
brella when you go to the office to-day. It is so very 
warm." Mrs. Anderson had a chronic fear of sunstroke. 

When Randolph went away without his umbrella, as 
he usually did, being, dearly as he loved his mother, 
impervious to some of her feminine demands, she 
watched him, standing in the doorway and shaking her 
head with a dubious air. 

That noon she was quite contented, for he did actu- 
ally carry his umbrella. The sky in the northwest was 
threatening, although the sun still shone fiercely in the 
south. She herself sat on the doorstep in the shade, and 
fairly panted like a corpulent old dog. Her mouth was 
open and her tongue even lolled a little. She was, in 
reality, suffering frightfully. She had both flesh and 
nerves, and, given these two adverse conditions to en- 
durance, and the mercury ninety in the shade, there is 
torture although the spirit is strong. 

Although the sky was threatening all the afternoon, 
it was not until four o'clock that the northwest sky 
grew distinctly ominous and the rumble of the thunder 
was audible. Then Mrs. Anderson called her maid, and 

171 



THE DEBTOR 



they proceeded to close tightly all the windows against 
the rising wind. 

"It is very dangerous indeed to have a draught in 
the house in a thunder-shower," Mrs. Anderson always 
said while closing them. 

Then she hurriedly divested herself of the white lawn 
wrapper which she had worn all day, and put on her 
black summer silk gown, with a wrap and a bonnet and 
an umbrella at hand. Mrs. Anderson was not afraid of a 
thunder-shower in the ordinary sense, but her imagina- 
tion never failed her. Therefore she was always dressed, 
in case the worst should happen and she be forced to 
flee from a stricken house. She also had her small and 
portable treasures ready at hand. Then she sat down 
in the middle of the sitting-room well out of range of 
the chimney, and prayed for her own and her son's 
safety, and incidentally for the safety of the maid, who 
was in the adjoining room with the door open, and for 
the house and her son's store. She always did thus in a 
thunder-shower, but she never told any one this inno- 
cent childish secret of an innocent old soul. 

She thought with a sort of undercurrent of faithless- 
ness of the great draught in her son's store if the large 
front doors and the office door were both open, as 
there was a strong probability of their being. She 
thought uneasily that her son might be that very mo- 
ment in that draught, as indeed he was. He stood in 
the strong current of fresh storm-air, with its pungent 
odors, more like revelations than odors, of things which 
had been in abeyance for some time past in the drought. 
The smell of the wet green things was like a p^ean of 
joy. It was a call of renewed life out of concealed 
places of fainting and hiding. There were scents of 
flowers and fruits, and another strange odor, like the 
smell of battle, from all the ferment on the earth which 
had precipitated the storm. It was quite a severe 

172 



THE DEBTOR 



thunder-shower. The rain had held off for a fierce 
prelude, then it came in solid cataracts. Then it was 
that Charlotte Carroll rushed into the store. She was 
dripping, beaten like a flower, by the force of the liquid 
flail of the storm. She had pulled off the rose-wreathed 
hat which was dear to her heart, and she had it under her 
dress skirt, which she held up over her lace-trimmed 
petticoat modestly, with as little revelation as might 
be. Her dark head glistened with the rain. 

Anderson stepped forward quickly. "Pray come into 
the office, Miss Carroll," he said. 

But she remained standing in front of the door, having 
removed her hat furtively from its shelter. "No, thank 
you," said she, "I would rather stay here. I like to 
watch it." 

Anderson fetched a chair from his office, but she 
thanked him and said that she preferred standing. 

"I thought I had time to get to Madame Griggs's on 
the other side of the street," said she, "but all at once 
it came down." 

Anderson felt her ungraciousness, but she herself did 
not seem to realize it at all. Presently she gave a little 
sidewise smile at him, and comprehended in the smile 
the old clerk and the boy who hovered near. 

"It is a fine shower," said she, with a kind of con- 
fidential glee. As she spoke she looked out at the 
snarl of rain shot with lances of electric fire, and there 
was a curious elation, almost like intoxication, in her 
expression. She was in a fine spiritual excitement. 

"Yes," said Anderson. "We needed rain." 

Just then the world seemed swimming in blue light 
and there was a terrific crash. Anderson, who never 
thought of any personal fear in a tempest, looked rather 
apprehensively at the girl. He recalled his mother's 
fear of draughts. 

"Perhaps you had better move back a little; that was 
i73 



THE DEBTOR 



quite near," he said. Somehow the little fears and 
precautions which he scorned for himself seemed to 
apply quite reasonably to this little, tender, pretty 
creature with the lightning playing around her and the 
thunder breaking over her defenceless head. 

Charlotte laughed. "Oh, I am not afraid," said she. 
Then she added, quite innocently, with more of personal 
appeal than she had ever used towards him, "Are you?" 

"No," said Anderson. 

"I like it," said she, staring out at the swaying, 
brandishing maples, and the street which ran like a 
river, with now and then a boiling pool. 

"I am afraid you are wet," said Anderson, 

"Yes," said she, "but that is nothing. My dress 
won't hurt. It is just white lawn, you know. All that 
would be hurt is my hat, and that is hardly damp. I 
took it off." She held it up carefully on one hand, and 
gazed solicitously at it. "It is my best hat," said she, 
simply. "No, I don't think it is hurt at all." She 
looked sharply towards the counter. "The counter is 
clean, isn't it?" said she. "I might lay my hat there. 
I don't want to put it on until my hair gets dry." 

The old clerk smiled covertly, the boy grinned at 
her in a fascinated way. Anderson regarded her with 
worshipful amazement. This little, artless revelation 
of the innermost vanity of a woman's heart touched him. 
It was to him inconceivable that she should so care for 
the welfare of that flower-bedecked oval of straw, and 
yet he thought it adorable of her to care. He stared at 
the hat as if it had been a halo, then he turned and 
looked anxiously at the counter. 

"Get a sheet of clean paper," he ordered the boy, and 
frowned at him for his grin. 

The boy obeyed solemnly. 

"I think that will not soil your hat," Anderson said, 
when the preparations were complete. 

i74 



HY,' SHE CRIED, 'THERE IS INA ! THERE IS MY SISTER!' 



THE DEBTOR 



"Oh, thank you," she said, and handed him the hat. 

Anderson touched it gingerly as if it were alive, and 
placed it upside down on the clean sheet of paper. 

"The other way up, please/' said she, and Anderson 
changed it in alarm. 

"I hope I have not injured it," he said. 

She was laughing openly at him. "No," she replied, 
"but you put it right on the roses. Men don't know 
how to handle girls' hats, do they?" 

"No; I fear they don't," replied Anderson. 

He remained leaning against the counter near the 
door; the old clerk lounged against the next one, on 
the end of which Sam Riggs was perched. Charlotte 
remained standing in the doorway, leaning slightly 
against the post, and they all watched the storm, which 
was fast reaching its height. The flashes of lightning 
were more frequent, the crashes of thunder followed 
fast, sound overlapping sight. The rain became a flood. 
The girl watched, with the intense, self-forgetful delight 
of a child, the plash of the great blobs of rain on the 
macadamized road outside. They came to look to her 
exactly like little figures chasing one another in an un- 
intermittent race of annihilation. She smiled, watching 
them. Anderson, looking from the rain to her, saw the 
smile, and thought with a little pang that she was prob- 
ably thinking of her own happiness when she smiled to 
herself like that. He kept his eyes fixed upon her for a 
moment, her glistening dark head, her smooth cheek, 
her smiling mouth, her shoulders faintly pink through 
her thin white gown, which, being wet, clung to them. 
Charlotte's shoulders were thin, but the hollowing curve 
from the throat to the arm was ravishing. Anderson's 
face hardened a little. He looked away again at the rain. 

All at once Charlotte glanced up from the dancing 
flight of the rain - drops on the road, and laughed. 
" Why," she cried, "there is Ina! There is my sister!" 

i7S 



THE DEBTOR 



Anderson looked, and in a second-story window op- 
posite was a girl's head in a violet-trimmed hat. She 
was smiling and nodding. Charlotte waved her hand 
to her. 

"I'll be over as soon as it holds tip a little,'* she cried 
out. "Did you get wet?" 

The girl in the window hollowed a slim hand over an 
ear. 

"Did you get caught in the shower? Did you get 
wet?" called Charlotte. 

The girl in the window shook her head gayly. 

"She didn't," Charlotte said, with an absurd but 
charming confidence to Anderson; "but, anyway, she 
didn't have on her very best hat." 

"I am very glad," Anderson replied, politely. He 
read a sign fastened beneath the window which framed 
the girl's head — "Madame Estelle Griggs, Modiste." 
He reflected that she was the Banbridge dressmaker, 
and that Charlotte was probably having her trousseau 
made there, which was a deduction that only a mascu- 
line mind of vivid imagination could have evolved. 

Charlotte was gazing eagerly across at her sister. 
"It does not rain nearly so hard now," said she. "I 
think I might venture." She looked irresolutely at 
her hat on the counter. 

"I can let you have an umbrella," said Anderson. 

"Thank you," said Charlotte, "but my hair is still 
so wet, and my hat is lined with pink chiffon, you know." 

"Yes," said Anderson, respectfully. He did not 
know what pink chiffon was, but he understood that 
water would injure it. 

"If I might leave my hat here," said Charlotte, "until 
I come back — " 

"Certainly," replied Anderson. 

"Then I think I can go now. No, thank you; I 
won't take the umbrella. I am about as wet as I can 

176 



THE DEBTOR 



be now, and, besides, I like to feel the rain on my shoul- 
ders." 

With a careful but wary gathering up of her white 
skirts, with chary disclosures of lace and embroidery 
and little skipping shoes, she was gone in a snowy whirl 
through the mist across the street. She seemed to fly 
over the puddles. The girl's head disappeared from the 
opposite window and Anderson heard quite distinctly 
the outburst of laughter and explanation. 

"You had better get a sheet of tissue-paper and put 
it over that," he said to Sam Riggs, and he pointed at 
Charlotte's hat on the counter. Then he went back 
to his office and wrote some letters. He resolved that 
he would not see Charlotte when she returned for her 
hat. 

Presently the sun shone into the office, and a new light 
seemed to come from the rain-drenched branches out- 
side the window. Anderson continued to write, feeling 
all the time unhappiness heavy in his heart. He also 
had a sense of injury which was foreign to him. He 
was distinctly aware that he had an unfair allotment 
of the good things of life. Yet there was a question 
dinning through his consciousness: "Why should I have 
so little?" Then the world-old query considering per- 
sonal responsibility for misery swept over him. "What 
have I done?" he asked himself, and answered him- 
self, with a fierce challenge of truth, that he had done 
nothing. Then the habit of his life of patience, which 
was at the same time a habit of bravery, asserted itself. 
He wrote his letters carefully and closed his ears to the 
questions. 

It was about half an hour later, and he was thinking 
about going home, when Sam Riggs came to the office 
door and informed him that Mrs. Griggs wanted to see 
him. 

Mrs. Griggs was Madame nowhere except on her sign 
177 



THE DEBTOR 



and in the mouths of a few genteel patrons who con- 
sidered that Madame had a more fashionable sound than 
Mrs. 

"Ask her to come in here," Anderson said, and di- 
rectly the dressmaker appeared. She was a tiny, thin, 
nervous creature with restless, veinous little hands, and 
a long, thin neck upon which her small frizzled head vi- 
brated constantly like the head of a bird. Anderson 
knew her very well. Back in his childhood they had 
been schoolmates. He remembered distinctly little Stel- 
la Mixter. She had been a sharp, meagre, but rather 
pretty little girl, with light curls, and was always dressed 
in blue. She wore blue now, for that matter — blue 
muslin, ornate with lace and ribbons. She had had a 
sad and hard life, but her spirit still- asserted itself. 
Her husband had deserted her; she had lost her one 
child; she worked like a galley-slave, but she still frizzed 
her hair carefully, and never neglected her own costume 
even in her greatest rush of business, and that in a dress- 
maker showed deathless ambition and self-respect. 

Anderson greeted her and offered her a chair. She 
seated herself with a conscious elegance, and disposed 
gracefully around her thin knees her blue muslin flounces. 
There was a slight coquetry in her manner, although she 
was evidently anxious about something. She looked 
around and spoke in a low voice. 

" I want to ask you something/' she said, in a whisper. 

"Certainly," said Anderson. 

"You used to be a lawyer, and I don't suppose you 
have forgotten all your law, if you are in the grocery 
business now." There was about the woman the very 
naivete of commonplaceness and offence. 

Anderson smiled. "I trust not, Mrs. Griggs," he 
replied. 

" Well" — she lowered her voice still more — "I wanted 
to ask you — I've got a big job of work for — that 

178 



THE DEBTOR 



Carroll girl that's going to be married, and Fve heard 
something that made me kind of uneasy. What I 
want to know is, do you s'pose I'm likely to get my 
pay?" 

" I know nothing whatever about the family's financial 
standing," Anderson replied, after a slight pause. He 
spoke constrainedly, and did not look at his questioner. 

"You don't know whether I'm likely to get my pay 
or not?" 

Anderson looked at her then, the little, nervous, 
overworked, almost desperate creature, fighting like a 
little animal in her bay of life against the odds which 
would drive her from it, and he felt in a horrible per- 
plexity. He felt also profane. Why could not he be 
left out of this? he inquired, with concealed emphasis. 
Finally he said that he would rather not advise in a case 
about which he knew so little. 

"I'm willing to pay," said the dressmaker, with her 
artless vulgarity. 

"It is not that," Anderson said, quickly, with some 
asperity. 

"I don't know," said the dressmaker, innocently 
deepening the offence, "but what you didn't feel as if 
you could give law-advice for nothin', even if you had 
quit the law. I s'pose it cost you a good deal to learn 
the law, and I know you didn't git your money back." 
She spoke with the kindest sympathy. 

"That has nothing to do with it," Anderson repeated, 
with an inflection of irritated patience. "I cannot give 
any advice because I know nothing whatever about the 
matter." 

"Can't you find out?" 

"That belongs to the business which I have given up." 

"Well, I s'pose it does," admitted Madame Griggs, 
with a sigh. " I wouldn't have bothered you if I hadn't 
been at my wit's end." 

179 



THE DEBTOR 



"I am willing to do anything in my power — " began 
Anderson, with a softened glance at the absurdly pa- 
thetic little figure, "but — " 

"Then you think I had better not trust them?' 1 

"No; I said— " 

"You think I had better send her word I've changed 
my mind, and can't do her work?" 

Anderson winced. " No ; I did not say so/' he replied, 
vehemently. "I merely said that you must settle — " 

"Then you think I had better keep on with it?" 

"If you think best," said Anderson, emphatically. 
"Really, Mrs. Griggs, I cannot settle this matter for you. 
You often trust people in your business. You must 
decide yourself." 

The dressmaker arose. "Well, I guess it's all right," 
said she. "She's a lovely girl, and so are they all. 
Her mother seems sort of childish, but she's real sweet- 
spoken. I guess it's all right, but I'd heard some 
things, and I thought I would ask you what you thought. 
I thought it wouldn't do any harm. Now I feel a good 
deal easier about it. Good-afternoon. What a tempest 
we've had!" 

"Yes," said Anderson. "Good-afternoon." He was 
conscious of a mental giddiness as he regarded her. 

" We needed it, and I do think it has cooled the air a 
little. I'm very much obliged. I don't suppose there 
is any use in my offering to pay you, now you're in the 
grocery business?" 

"Certainly not. I have done nothing to admit of 
any question of payment," replied Anderson, curtly. 

"Well, I s'pose you throw it in along with the butter 
and eggs," said Madame Griggs, with a return of her 
slight coquetry. "By-the-way, I wish you'd send over 
five pounds of that best butter, Good-afternoon." 

" Good-afternoon." 

The dressmaker turned in the doorway and looked 

180 



THE DEBTOR 



back. "I'm so glad to have my mind settled about it," 
she said, with a pathos which overcame her absurdity 
and vulgarity. "I do work awful hard, and it doesn't 
seem as if I could lose my money/ ' She appeared sud- 
denly tragic in her cheap muslin and her frizzes. She 
looked old and her features sharpened out rigidly. 

Anderson, looking after her, felt both bewilderment 
and compunction. He thought for a moment of going 
after her and saying something further ; then he heard a 
flutter and a quick sweet voice, and he knew that Char- 
lotte had come for her hat. He heard her say: " Where ? 
Oh, I see; all covered up so nicely. Thank you. I 
did not come before, because the trees were dripping. 
Thank you.' , Then there was a silence. 

Anderson got his hat and went out through the store. 
The old clerk was fussing over some packages on the 
counter. 

"That young lady came for her hat," he remarked. 
"Did she?" 

"Yes. She's a pretty-spoken girl. Her sister's goin' 
to git married before long, I hear." 

Anderson stopped and stared at him. "No; this is 
the one." 

"No; her sister. I had it straight." 

Anderson went out. Everything was wonderful out- 
side. The world was purified of dust and tarnish as a 
soul of sin. The worn prosaicness of nature was adorned 
as with jewels. Everything glittered ; a thousand rain- 
bows seemed to hang on the drenched trees. New 
blossoms looked out like new eyes of rapture; every 
leaf had a high-light of joy. Anderson drew a long 
breath. The air was alive with the breath of the sea 
from which the fresh wind blew. He walked home with 
a quick step like a boy. He was smiling, and fast to his 
breast, like a beloved child, he clasped his dream again. 



CHAPTER XVI 



There had been considerable discussion among the 
ladies of the Carroll family with regard to the necessary 
finery for Ina's bridal. 

"It is all very well to talk about Ina's being married 
in four weeks/' said Anna Carroll to her sister-in-law, 
one afternoon directly after the affair had been settled. 
" If a girl gets married, she has to have new clothes, of 
course — a trousseau.' ' 

"Why, yes, of course! How could she be married if 
she didn't have a trousseau ? I had a very pretty trous- 
seau, and so would you if you had been married, Anna, 
dear." 

Anna laughed, a trifle bitterly. "Good Lord," said 
she, "if I had to think of a trousseau for myself, I should 
be a maniac! The trousseau would at any time have 
seemed a much more difficult matter than the bride- 
groom." 

"Yes, I know you have had a great many very good 
chances," assented Mrs. Carroll, and it would have 
seemed most of the time much easier to have just man- 
aged the husband part of it than the new clothes, because 
one doesn't have to pay cash or have good credit for a 
husband, and one does for clothes." 

" Well," said Anna Carroll, "that is the trouble about 
Ina. It was easy enough for her to get the husband. 
Major Arms has always had his eye on her ever since she 
was in short dresses; but what isn't at all easy is the 
new clothes." 

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THE DEBTOR 



"I don't see why, dear." 

"Well, how is it to be managed, if you will be so 
good as to inform me, Amy?" 

"How? Why, just go to the dressmaker's and order 
them, of course." 

"What dressmaker's, dear?" 

"Well, I think that last New York dressmaker is the 
best. She really has imagination like a French dress- 
maker. She doesn't copy; she creates. She is really 
quite an artist." 

"Madame Potoffsky, you mean?" 

"Yes, dear. The dressmaker whose husband they 
say was a descendant of the Polish patriot. They say 
she herself is descended from a Russian princess who 
eloped with the Polish patriot, and I can believe it. 
There is something very unusual about her. She always 
makes me a little bit nervous, because one does get to 
associating Russians, especially those that run away 
with patriots, with bombs and things of that kind, but 
she is a wonderful dressmaker. I certainly think it 
would be wise to patronize her for Ina's trousseau, 
Anna." 

Anna laughed, and rather bitterly, again. "Well, 
dear, I have my doubts about our ability to patronize 
her," she said, "and, granting that we could, you might 
in reality encounter the bomb as penalty." 

"Anna, dear, what — " 

"Amy, don't you know that Madame Potoffsky 
simply will not give us any further credit?" 
"Oh, Anna, do you think so?" 

"I know. Amy, only think of the things we owe her 
for now — my linen, my pongee, my canvas, your two 
foulards, Ina's muslin, Charlotte's etamine! It is im- 
possible." 

"Oh, dear! Do we owe her for all those?" 
"We do." 
13 183 



THE DEBTOR 



" Well, then, I fear you are right, Anna," Mrs. Carroll 
said, ruefully. 

The two women continued to look at each other. 
Mrs. Carroll had a curious round-eyed face of consterna- 
tion, like a baby; Anna looked, on the contrary, older 
than usual. Her features seemed quite sharpened out 
by thought. 

"What do you think we can do, Anna?" asked Mrs. 
Carroll, at length. " Do you suppose if we told Madame 
Potoffsky just how it was, how dear Ina was going to 
be married, and how interested we all were in having 
her look nice and have pretty things that she would — " 

"No, I don't think so," Anna said, shortly. "What 
does Madame Potoffsky care about Ina and her getting 
married, except for what she makes out of it?" 

"But, Anna, she is very rich. Everybody says so. 
She has a beautiful house, and a country-house, and 
keeps a carriage to go to her shop in." 

"Well, what of that?" 

"I thought the Russians believed that rich people 
ought to do things for people who were not rich, or else 
be blown up with bombs." 

" Don't be silly, Amy, darling." 

"I am quite in earnest, Anna, I really thought so." 

"Well, you thought wrong then, dear. There is no 
reason in the world why a dressmaker, if she is as rich 
as a Vanderbilt, should make Ina's wedding-clothes for 
nothing, and she won't." 

"Well, I suppose you are right, Anna, but what is to 
be done? How about Miss Sargent? She was very 
good." 

"Miss Sargent, Amy dear! 11 

"Do we owe her much, Anna?" 

"Owe her much? We owe her everything!" 

"Madame Rogers?" 

"Madame Rogers! The last time I asked her to do 
184 



THE DEBTOR 



anything she insulted me. She told me to my face she 
did not work for dead-beats." 

"She was a very vulgar woman, Anna. I don't think 
I would patronize her under any circumstances." 

"No, I would not either, dear. But that finishes the 
New York dressmakers." 

"How about the Hillfield one?" 

"Amy!" 

"Well, I suppose you are right; but what — " 

"We shall have to go to a dressmaker in Banbridge. 
We have never had any work done here, and there can 
be no difficulty about it." 

"But, Anna, how can we have her married with a 
trousseau made in Banbridge?" 

"It is either that or no trousseau at all." 

Mrs. Carroll seldom wept, but she actually shed a 
few tears over the prospect of a shabbily made trousseau 
for Ina. "And she will go in the best society in Ken- 
tucky, too," she said, pitifully. "They'll attribute it 
all to the lack of taste in the North," Anna said. 

Ina herself made no objection whatever to employing 
the Banbridge dressmaker; in fact, she seemed to have 
little interest in her clothes at first. After a while she 
became rather feverishly excited over them. 

"I have always wondered why girls cared so much 
about their wedding-clothes," she told her sister after 
two weeks, when the preparations were well under way, 
"but now I know." 

"Why?" asked Charlotte. The two were coming 
home from the dressmaker's, where Ina had been trying 
on gowns for an hour. It was late in the afternoon and 
nearly time for Captain Carroll's train. 

"Why?" repeated Charlotte, when Ina did not an- 
swer at once. 

"In order to keep from thinking so much about the 
marriage itself," said Ina, tersely. She did not look 

1*5 



THE DEBTOR 



at her sister, but kept her eyes fixed on the road ahead 
of her. 

Charlotte, however, almost stopped. "Ina," said 
she, in a distressed tone — "Ina, dear, you don't feel 
like that?" 

"Why not?" inquired Ina, defiantly. 

" Oh, Ina, you ought not to get married if you feel like 
that!" 

"Why not? All girls feel like that when they are 
going to be married. They must." 
"Oh, Ina, I know they don't!" 

"How do you know? You were never going to get 
married." 

That argument was rather too much for Charlotte, 
but she continued to gaze at her sister with a shocked 
and doubtful air as they walked along the shady side- 
walk towards home. " I am almost sure it isn't right for 
a girl to feel so, anyhow," she said, persistently. 

"Yes, it is, too," Ina said, laughing easily. "Char- 
lotte, honey, I really think my things are going to do 
very well. I really think so. That tan canvas is a 
beauty, and so is the red foulard. She is really a very 
good dressmaker." 

"I think so too, dear," Charlotte agreed. "I like the 
wedding-gown, too." 

"Yes, so do I ; it is very pretty, though that does not 
so much matter." 

"Why, Ina Carroll!" 

Ina laughed mischievously. "Now I have shocked 
you, dear. Of course it matters in one way, but I shall 
never wear it again after the ceremony; and you know 
I don't care much about the Banbridge people, and 
they will be the only ones to see me in it, and only that 
once." 

"But, Ina, he — your — Major Arms." 
Ina laughed again. "Oh, well, he thinks me per- 
186 



THE DEBTOR 



fectly beautiful anyway," said she, in the tone of one to 
whom love was as dross because of the superabundance 
of it. 

"Ina," said Charlotte, with a solemn and timidly 
reflective air, "I don't believe you think half as much 
of him as you would if he didn't think so much of you." 

" Yes, I do think just as much," said Ina, "but things 
always seem worth rather more when they are in a show- 
case and marked more than one can ever pay." Then 
she started, and exclaimed: "Good gracious, there he 
is now!" She flushed all over her face and neck; then 
she turned pale and cast a half-wild look around her as 
if she wanted to run somewhere. 

Indeed, at that moment the Carroll carriage drew 
up beside them, and on the back seat sat Captain Carroll 
and a very handsome man apparently about his own 
age, although at first glance he looked older because 
of snow-white hair and mustache. He was as tall as 
Carroll, and thinner, and less punctiliously attired, al- 
though he wore his somewhat slouching clothes with a 
certain careless assurance of being the master of them 
which Carroll, with all his elegance, did not excel. 

"Here we are!" called Carroll. He was smiling, al- 
though he had a slightly worried look. The other man's 
black eyes were fixed with a sort of tender hunger on 
Ina, who hung back a little as she and Charlotte ap- 
proached the carriage. It was actually Charlotte who 
shook hands first with Major Arms, although she tried 
to give her sister precedence. 

Ina blushed a good deal, and smiled rather tremulously 
when her turn came and her little hand was enveloped 
in the man's eager one. 

"I — didn't know — I didn't — " she stammered. 

"No, you didn't, did ye, honey?" said the major, in 
the broadest of Southern drawls. "No, ye didn't. 
The old fellow thought he'd surprise ye, honey." The 

187 



THE DEBTOR 



man's face and voice were as frankly expressive of de- 
lighted love as a boy's. "Arthur," said he, "over with 
ye to the front seat and let me have my sweetheart in 
here with me. I want my arms around her. Not an- 
other minute can I wait. Over with ye, boy!" 

Carroll threw open the carriage door and sprang out. 
"Jump in, Ina," he said, and placed a hand under his 
daughter's arm. She gave a smiling and not altogether 
unhappy, but still piteous, look at him, and hung back 
slightly. "Jump in, dear," he said, again; and Ina was 
in the carriage, and there was a sweep of a long gray- 
clad arm around her and the sound of kisses. 

"Now, Charlotte," said Carroll, "get in the front 
seat. I will walk the rest of the way." 

"No, papa," Charlotte replied, "I will walk with you. 
I would rather." So the carriage rolled on, and Char- 
lotte and Carroll followed on foot. 

"Did you expect him, papa?" asked Charlotte.* 

"No, honey. The first thing I knew he came up to 
me on the ferry. He came on this morning; he has been 
in New York all day. I guess he wanted to buy some- 
thing for Ina." 

"Her ring?" asked Charlotte, in a slightly awed 
tone. 

"Very likely." 

"Papa, is Major Arms rich?" asked Charlotte. 

"Quite, I think, dear. I don't know how much he 
has in reality, but he has his pay from the government — 
he is on the retired list — and he owns considerable 
property. He has enough and to spare, there is no 
doubt about that." 

"So if Ina has things and people trouble her for pay- 
ment she can pay them," remarked Charlotte, thought- 
fully. 

"Yes," said Carroll, shortly. He quickened his pace, 
and Charlotte made a little run to get into step again. 

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THE DEBTOR 



"That will be very nice," said she. "Do you think 
he will be good to her, papa?" 

"Sure as I am of anything in this world, dear." 

"It would be dreadful if he wasn't. Whatever else 
Ina or any of us haven't had, we've always had that. 
We've always lived with folks that loved us and were 
good to us. That would kill Ina and me quickest of 
anything, papa." 

"He will be good to her, dear," said Carroll, pleasant- 
ly. He looked down at Charlotte and laughed. "It's 
all right, baby," he said. " She's got one man in a thou- 
sand — one worth a thousand of your old dad." 

"No, she hasn't," said Charlotte, with indignation. 
She caught her father's arm and clung to it lovingly. 
"There is nobody in the world so good as you," she said, 
with fervor. "I wouldn't leave you for any man in the 
world, papa." 

"You wait," Carroll said, laughing. 

"Papa, you don't wish I were going to be married 
too? You don't want me to go away like Ina?" Char- 
lotte demanded, with a sudden grieved catch in her 
voice. 

"I never want you to go, darling," Carroll replied, 
and he looked down with adoration at the little face 
whose whole meaning seemed one of innocent love for 
and belief in him. He realized the same terror at 
the mere fancy of losing this artless and unquestion- 
ing devotion as one might feel at the fancy of losing his 
only prop from the edge of a precipice. The man really 
had for an instant a glimpse of a sheer descent in his 
own nature which might be ever before his sickened 
vision if this one little faith and ignorance were removed. 
In a curious fashion a man sometimes holds an innocent 
love between himself and himself, and Carroll so held 
Charlotte's. 

"I will never leave you for any other man. I don't 
189 



THE DEBTOR 



care who he is," Charlotte reiterated, and this time her 
father let her assertion go unchallenged. He pressed 
the little, clinging hand on his arm closer. 

Charlotte looked at him as she might have looked 
at a king as he walked along in his stately fashion. She 
was unutterably proud of him. 

The carriage had reached the house some time before 
they arrived. The man was just driving round to the 
stable when they came up to the front door. The guest 
and Ina were nowhere to be seen, but on the porch stood 
Mrs. Carroll and Anna. They were both laughing, but 
Anna looked worried in spite of her laugh. 

"What do you think, Arthur," whispered Mrs. Car- 
roll, with a cautious glance towards a chamber window. 
" Here he has come, the son-in-law, and there is no meat 
again for dinner." Mrs. Carroll burst into a peal of 
laughter. 

"I don't see much to laugh at," said Anna, but she 
laughed a little. 

Carroll made a step to the side of the porch and called 
to the coachman. "Martin," he called, "don't take 
the horse out. Come back here. We must send for 
something," he declared, a little brusquely for him. 

"It is all very well to send, Arthur," said Mrs. Carroll, 
" but the butcher won't let us have it if we do send." 

"It is no use, Arthur," Anna Carroll said. "We 
cannot get a thing for this man's dinner, and not only 
to-day, but to-morrow and while he stays, unless we 
pay cash." 

Carroll turned to the coachman, who had just come 
alongside. "Martin," he said, "you will have to drive 
to New Sanderson before dinner. We cannot get the 
meat which Mrs. Carroll wishes, and you will have to 
drive over there. Go to that large market on Main 
Street and tell them that I want the best cut of porter- 
house with the tenderloin that he has. Tell him it is 

190 



THE DEBTOR 



for Captain Carroll of Banbridge. " And I want you to 
get also a roast of lamb for to-morrow/ ' 

"Yes, sir," said the coachman. He gathered up the 
lines, but sat looking hesitatingly at his employer. 

"What are you waiting for?" asked Carroll. "Drive 
as fast as you can. We are late as it is." 

"Shall I pay, sir?" asked the man, timidly, in a low 
voice. 

Carroll took out his pocket-book, then replaced it. 
"No, not to-night/' he said, easily. "Tell him it is 
for Captain Carroll of Banbridge." 

The man still looked doubtful and a trifle alarmed, 
but he touched his hat and drove out of the grounds. 
Carroll turned and saw his wife and sister staring at him. 

"Oh, Arthur, dear, do you think the butcher will let 
him have it?" whispered Mrs. Carroll. 

"Yes, honey," said Carroll. 

"If he shouldn't—" 

"Don't worry; he will." 

"It is one of your coups, isn't it, Arthur?" said Anna, 
sarcastically, but rather admiringly. She and Mrs. Car- 
roll both laughed. 

"We have never bought any meat in New Sanderson, 
so maybe Martin can get it," Mrs. Carroll said, as she 
seated herself in one of the large willow-rockers on the 
porch. 

Dinner was very late that night at the Carrolls'. 
Even with a fast horse, driving to New Sanderson and 
back consumed some time, but Martin finally returned 
triumphant. When he drove into the yard it was dusk 
and the family and the guest were all seated on the 
porch. There was a steady babble of talk and laughter 
on the part of the ladies, who were nervously intent on 
concealing, or at least softening, the fact that dinner 
was so late that Major Arms might well be excused for 
judging that there was to be no dinner at all. 

191 



THE DEBTOR 



Once, Ina had whispered to Charlotte, when the con- 
versation among the others swelled high: "What is the 
matter? Do you know?" 

"Hush! Poor papa had to send to New Sanderson 
for meat," whispered Charlotte. 

Ina made a face of consternation; Charlotte looked 
sadly troubled. 

"I'm afraid he is awfully hungry," whispered Ina. 
"I pity him." 

"I pity papa," whispered Charlotte. She kept 
glancing at her father with loving sympathy and under- 
standing as the time went on. His face was quite un- 
disturbed, but Charlotte saw beneath the calm. When 
at last she heard the carriage-wheels her heart leaped 
and she turned pale. Then she dared not look at her 
father. Suppose Martin should not have been suc- 
cessful. The eyes of all the family except Carroll him- 
self, who was talking about the tariff and politely sup- 
porting the government against a hot-headed rebellion 
on the part of the ex-army officer, were on him. Not 
an inflection in his voice changed when Martin drove 
past the porch, but the others, even Eddy, who was 
seated at his sister's feet on the porch-step, eyed the 
arrival with undisguised eagerness. A brown - paper 
parcel was distinctly visible on the seat beside Martin. 

"Thank God!" Mrs. Carroll whispered, under her 
breath to her sister. "He's got it." 

Eddy gave vent to a small whoop of delight which 
he immediately suppressed with a scared glance at his 
father. However, he could not refrain from sniffing 
audibly with rapture when the first fragrance of the 
broiling beefsteak spread through the house to the 
porch. Mrs. Carroll giggled, and so did Ina, but Char- 
lotte looked severely at her brother. 

"After all, though, the excessive tax on articles pur- 
chased by travellers abroad and brought to this country 

192 



THE DEBTOR 



serves as a legitimate balance-wheel," said Carroll, cool- 
ly. One would not have thought that he was in the 
least conscious of what was going on around him. "It 
is mostly the very wealthy who go abroad and purchase 
articles of foreign manufacture," he added, gently, " and 
it serves to even up things a little for those who can- 
not go. It marks a notch higher on the equality of 
possessions." 

"Equality of fiddlesticks!" said the other man. 
" What the devil do the masses of the poor in this coun- 
try care about the foreign works of art, anyhow? They 
don't want 'em. And what is going to compensate 
this country for not possessing works of art which it 
will never produce here, and which would tend to the 
liberal education of its citizens?" 

"Not many of its citizens in the broader sense would 
ever see those works of art when they were here and 
shrined in the drawing-rooms of the millionaires," said 
Carroll, smiling; "and as far as that goes, the million- 
aires have them, anyhow. They are not stopped by 
the tariff." 

"Yes, they are, too, more than you think," declared 
the major; "and not the millionaires alone are defrauded. 
Suppose I go over now, as I may do" — he cast a glance 
at Ina — "as I may do, I say. Now there are things 
over there that I want in my home — things that are not 
to be had for love nor money in this country. Nothing 
of the sort is or ever will be manufactured here. I am 
doing nothing whatever to injure home industries if I 
bring them over. On the contrary, I am benefiting the 
country by bringing to it articles which are, in a way, 
an education which may serve as a stimulus to the 
growth of art here. I enable those who can never go 
abroad, and to whom they will be otherwise forever 
unknown, an opportunity to become acquainted with 
them. But I have to leave them over there because I 

193 



THE DEBTOR 



cannot afford to pay this government for the privilege 
of spending my own money and gratifying my own 
taste.' ' 

Anna Carroll, to cover her absorption in the beef- 
steak and the dinner, joined in the conversation with 
feminine daring of conclusion. "I suppose," said she, 
with a kind of soft sarcasm, "that the government 
would not need to charge so much for its citizens' priv- 
ilege of buying little foreign vases and mosaics and 
breastpins and little Paris frills if it did not conduct so 
many humanitarian wars." 

"The humanitarian wars are all right, all right," said 
the major, hastily; "so far as that goes, all right." 

"I suppose," said Mrs. Carroll, "that it would cost so 
much to bring home gowns from Paris that no one can 
do it unless they have a great deal of money. I under- 
stand that it costs more than it did." 

"Yes," replied the major, "and this government 
can't see or won't see that even in the matter of women's 
clothes it would pay in the end to bring over every 
frill and tuck free of duty until our dressmakers here 
had caught on to their tricks. Then we could pay 
them back in their own coin. But, no; and the conse- 
quence is that we shall be dependent on France for our 
best clothes for generations more." 

"It does seem such a pity," said Mrs. Carroll. "It 
would be so nice to have Ina's things made in Paris if 
it didn't cost anything to get them over here — wouldn't 
it?" 

"I would just as soon have my dresses made in Ban- 
bridge," said Ina. "Madame Griggs is as good as a 
French dressmaker." 

"She is fine," said Charlotte. 

Ina blushed as the major looked at her with a look 
that penetrated the dusk. Very soon Marie appeared in 
the doorway, and they went in to dinner. 

194 



THE DEBTOR 



"How lucky it is that Anderson does not object to 
trusting us and we can have canned soup and pease,' ' 
whispered Mrs. Carroll to Anna. 

It was a very good dinner at last, and the guest was 
evidently hungry, for he did justice to it. There were 
no apologies for the delay. Carroll did not believe in 
apologies for such things. There was a salad from their 
own garden, and a dessert of apple - pudding from an 
early apple-tree in the grounds. The coffee was good, 
too. There was no lack of anything which could be 
purchased at the grocery. 

4 'That grocer must be a very decent sort of man as 
grocers go," Mrs. Carroll was fond of remarking in those 
days. "I really don't know what we should do if it 
were not for him." 

After dinner was over it was nearly nine o'clock; 
Carroll and Major Arms walked up and down the road 
before the house, smoking, leaving the ladies on the 
porch. The ex-army officer had something which he 
wished to discuss with his prospective father-in-law. 
He opened upon the subject when they had gone a piece 
down the flagged sidewalk and turned towards the 
house. 

' ' What kind of arrangements have the ladies planned 
with regard to" — he hesitated and stammered a bit 
boyishly, for this was his first matrimonial venture, and 
he felt embarrassed, veteran in other respects as he was 
— 4 'to the — ceremony?" he finished up. Ceremony did 
not have the personal sound that marriage did. 

Carroll looked at him, smiling. "It is quite a venture 
for you, old fellow, isn't it?" he said, laughingly, and 
yet his voice sounded exceedingly kind and touched. 

"Not with that child, Arthur," replied the other 
man, simply. 

"Well, Ina is a good girl," assented Carroll. "Both 
of them are good girls. She will make you a good wife." 

*95 



THE DEBTOR 



"Nobody knows how sure I am of it, and nobody 
knows how I have looked forward to this for years," 
said the other, fervently. 

"I could not wish anything better for my girl," said 
Carroll, gently and soberly. 

"What about the matter of the — ceremony?" asked 
Arms, returning to the first subject. 

"I think they have decided that they would prefer 
the wedding in the church, and a little reception at 
the house afterwards. Of course we are comparatively 
strangers in Banbridge, but there are people one can 
always ask to a function of the sort, and I think Ina — " 

"Arthur, there is something I would like to pro- 
pose." 

"What, old fellow?" 

Major Arms hesitated. Carroll waited, smoking as 
he sauntered along. The other man held his cigar, 
which had gone out, in his mouth; evidently he was 
nervous about his proposition. Finally he blurted it 
out with the sharpness of a pistol-shot. "Arthur, I 
want to defray the expenses of the wedding," he said. 

Carroll removed his cigar. "See you damned first," 
said he, coolly, but with emphasis, and then replaced it. 

Major Arms turned furiously towards him, but he re- 
strained himself. "Why?" he said, with forced calm. 

"Because if I cannot pay my daughter's bridal ex- 
penses she never marries you nor any other man," said 
Carroll. 

Then the Major blazed out. He stopped short and 
moved before Carroll on the sidewalk. "If," said he — 
"if — you think I marry your daughter if her father goes 
in debt for the wedding expenses, you are mistaken." 

Carroll said nothing. He stood as if stunned. The 
other went on with a burst of furious truth: "See here, 
Arthur Carroll," said he, "I like you, and you know 
how I feel about your girl. She is the one thing I have 

196 



THE DEBTOR 



wanted for my happiness all my life, and I know I can 
take care of her and make her happy; and I like you 
in spite of — in spite of your outs. I'm ashamed of 
myself for liking you, but I do ; but you needn't think 
I don't see you, that I don't know you, because I do. 
I knew when you went to the dogs after you failed in 
your mine, just as well as you did yourself. You went 
to the dogs, and you've been at the dogs' ever since; 
you're there now, and you've dragged your family with 
you so far as they're the sort to be dragged. They 
aren't, altogether, lucky for them; the girls especially 
aren't, at least not so far. Lord knows when it would 
come to them. But I'm going to take Ina away from 
the dogs, out of sound of a yelp even of 'em ; and, as for 
me, I'll be hanged if you get me there! I know you for 
just what you are. I know you've prowled and preyed 
like a coyote ever since you were preyed on yourself. 
I know you, but I love Ina. But I tell you one thing, 
Arthur Carroll, now you can take your choice. Either 
you let me pay the wedding expenses or you give up the 
wedding." 

"Ina," began Carroll, in a curious, helpless fashion, 
"she has set her heart on the wedding — her — dress and 
everything." 

"I can't help that," said Arms, sternly. " This is of 
more importance even than her pleasure. Take your 
choice. Let me pay or let us be married in the quietest 
manner possible." 

"I consent to the latter," Carroll said, still in that 
beaten tone. 

He seemed to shrink in stature, standing before the 
other man's uprear of imperious will. 
"All right," said Major Arms. 

The two walked on in silence for a moment. Arms 
relit his cigar. Suddenly Carroll spoke. 
"No, I will not, either," he said, abruptly. 

197 



THE DEBTOR 



"Will not what?" 

"I will not consent to the quiet wedding. Ina shall 
not be disappointed. This means too much to a girl. 
Good God! it is the one occasion of a woman's life, and 
women are children always. It is cruelty to children." 

"Then I pay," Arms said. 

"No, I pay," said Carroll. 

"You pay?" 

"I pay," Carroll repeated, doggedly. 
"How?" 

"Never mind how. I tell you I give you my word of 
honor I pay every dollar of those expenses the day after 
the wedding." 

"You will rob Peter to pay Paul, then," declared 
Major Arms, incredulously and wrathfully. 

Carroll laughed in a hard fashion. "I would kill 
Peter, besides robbing him, if it was necessary," he 
said. 

" If you think I'll have that way out of it — " 

"I tell you I will pay those expenses, every dollar, the 
next day, and Ina shall have her little festival. What 
more do you want?" demanded Carroll. "See here, 
Arms, you will take care of the girl better than I can. I 
am at the dogs fast enough, and the dogs' is not a de- 
sirable locality in which to see one's family. You can 
take care of Ina, and God knows I want you to have her, 
but have her you shall not unless you can show some 
lingering confidence in her father. Even at the dogs' a 
man may have a little pride left. Either we have the 
wedding as it is planned, and you trust me to settle the 
bills for it, or you can give up my daughter." 

Arms stood silent, looking at Carroll. "Very well," 
he said, finally. 

"All right, then," said Carroll. 

Arms remained staring at Carroll with a curious, 
puzzled expression. 

198 



THE DEBTOR 



' 1 Good God! Arthur, how do you ever stand it living 
this sort of life?" he cried, suddenly. 

"I have to stand it," replied Carroll. "As well ask a 
shot fired from a cannon how it likes being hurled 
through the air. I was fired into this." 

"You ought to have had some power of resistance, 
some will of your own." 

' 1 There are forces for every living man for which he 
has no power of resistance. Mine hit me." 

"If ever there was a damned, smooth-tongued scoun- 
drel — " said Arms, retrospectively. 

" Where is he?" Carroll asked, and his voice sounded 
strange. 

"There." 

"How is he?" 

"Prospering like the wicked in the psalms. There 
was one respect in which you showed will and self- 
control, Arthur — that you didn't shoot him!" 

"I was a fool," said Carroll. 

"He wasn't worth hanging for," said the major, 
shortly. 

"I'd hang five times over if I could get even with 
him," said Carroll. 

"I don't wonder you feel so." 

"Feel so! You asked me just now how I stood this 
sort of life. I believe my hate for that man keeps me up 
like a stimulant. I believe it keeps me up when I see 
other poor devils that I — " 

Suddenly Arms reached out his hand and grasped 
Carroll's. "Good God! old fellow, I'm sorry for you!" 
he said. "You are too good for the dogs." 

"Yes, I know I am," said Carroll, calmly. 

The two men returned to the house and sat on the 
porch with the ladies. About half-past ten Anna Carroll 
said good-night, then Mrs. Carroll. Then Charlotte rose, 
and Ina also followed her up-stairs. 
14 199 



THE DEBTOR 



"Ina," cried Charlotte, in a sort of angry embarrass- 
ment, when they had reached her chamber, "you've 
got to go back; indeed you have." 

"I suppose I ought." Ina was blushing furiously, 
her lip quivered. She was twisting a ring on her en- 
gagement-finger. 

"You have even kept the stone side in, so nobody 
could see that beautiful ring he brought you. You are 
mean — mean!" said Charlotte. 

"You just imagine that," said Ina, feebly. As she 
spoke she held up her hand, and a great diamond flashed 
rose and green and white. 

"No, I don't imagine it. I have not seen it once like 
that. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You 
must go straight back down-stairs. People when they 
are engaged always sit up alone together. You are not 
doing right coming up here with me." 

"What are you scolding me for? Who said I was not 
going back?" returned Ina, with resentful shame. 

"You know you were not." 

"I was." 

"Well, good-night, honey," said Charlotte, in a softer 
tone. 

"Good-night." 

Charlotte kissed her sister, and saw her leave the room 
and go down to her lover with a curious mixture of pity 
and awe and wrath and wistful affection. It almost 
seemed to her that Ina was happy, although afraid and 
ashamed to be, and it made her seem like a stranger 
to the maiden ignorance of her own heart. 



CHAPTER XVII 



There was a good deal of talk in Banbridge when 
Ina Carroll's wedding-invitations were out. There were 
not many issued. When it came to making out the list, 
the number of persons who, from what the family con* 
sidered as a reasonable point of view, were possible, was 
exceedingly small. 

"Of course we cannot ask such and such a one/' 
Mrs. Carroll would say, and the others would acquiesce 
simply, with no thought of the possibility of anything 
else. 

"There's that young man who goes on the train every 
morning with papa," said Charlotte. "His name is 
Veazie — Francis Veazie. He has called here. They live 
on Elm Street. His father is that nice-looking old gen- 
tleman who walks past here every day, on his way to 
the mail, a little lame." 

"Charlotte, dear," said Ina, "don't you remember 
that somebody told us that that young man was a floor- 
walker in one of the department stores?" 

"Oh, sure enough," said Charlotte, "I do remember, 
dear." 

"There are really very few indeed in a place like 
Banbridge whom it is possible to invite to a wedding," 
said Mrs. Carroll. 

Banbridge itself shared her opinion. Those who 
were bidden to the wedding acquiesced in their selected- 
ness and worthiness; those who were not bidden, with a 
very few exceptions of unduly aspiring souls, acquiesced 

201 



THE DEBTOR 



calmly in their own ineligibility, Banbridge, for a vil- 
lage in the heart of a republic, had a curious rigidity of 
establishment and content as to its social conditions. 
For the most part those who were not invited would 
have been embarrassed and even suspicious at receiving 
invitations. But they talked. In that they showed 
their inalienable republican freedom. They moved 
along as unquestioningly as European peasants, in 
their grooves, but their tongues soared. In speech, 
as is the way with an American, they held nothing 
sacred, not even the institutions which they propped, 
not even themselves. They might remain unquestion- 
ingly, even preferredly, outside the doors of superiority, 
but out there they raised a clamor of self-assertion. 
Their tongues wagged with prodigious activity utterly 
unleashed. In the days before Ina Carroll's wedding all 
Banbridge seethed and boiled like a pot with gossip, 
and gossip full of malice and sneer, and a good deal of 
righteous indignation. Anderson heard much of it. 
Neither he nor his mother was asked to the wedding. 
The Carrolls had not even considered the possibility of 
such a thing. Mrs. Anderson spoke of it one evening at 
tea. 

"I hear they are going to have quite a wedding at 
those new people's, " said she; "a wedding in the church, 
and reception afterwards at the house. Miss Josie 
Eggleston and Agnes and Mrs. Monroe were in here this 
afternoon, and they were speaking about it. They said 
the young lady was having her trousseau made at Mrs. 
Griggs's, and everybody thought it rather singular. 
They are going to the wedding and reception. They 
inquired if we were going, and I said that we had not 
been invited, that we had not called. I have been in- 
tending to call ever since they came, but now, of course, 
it is out of the question until after the wedding." Mrs. 
Anderson spoke with a slight regret. A mild curiosity 

202 



THE DEBTOR 



was a marked trait of hers. "I suppose we could go to 
the church even if we had no invitation; I suppose many 
will do that/' she said, a little wistfully, after a pause. 

"Do you think it wise, without an invitation ?" asked 
Anderson, rather amusedly. 

"Why, I don't know, really, dear, that it could do any 
harm — that is, lower one's dignity at all. Of course it 
is not as if we had called. If we had called and then 
received no invitation, the slight would have been 
marked. But of course we were not invited simply be- 
cause we had not called — M 

" Still, I think I should rather not go, under the cir- 
cumstances, mother/' Anderson said, quietly. 

"Well, perhaps you are right, dear," said his mother. 
" It seems to me that you may be a trifle too punctilious; 
still, it is best to err on the safe side, and, after all, these 
are new people; we know very little about them, after 
all." Nothing was further from Mrs. Anderson than 
the surmise that, even had she called, no invitation 
would have come from these unknown new people to 
the village grocer and his mother. Mrs. Anderson, even 
with her secret and persistent dissent to her son's giving 
up his profession and adopting trade, never dreamed 
of any possible loss of social prestige. She considered 
herself and her son established in their family traditions 
beyond possibility of shaking by such minor matters. 
Anderson did not enlighten her. 

"Mrs. Monroe said that she had heard that the Car- 
rolls were owing a good deal," said she, presently. 
" She said she heard that Blumenfeldt said he must have 
cash for the flowers for the decorations. They have 
ordered a great many palms and things. She said she 
heard that Captain Carroll told him that the money 
would be forthcoming, and scared him out of his wits, 
he was so high and mighty, and the florist just gave 
right in and said he should have all he wanted. She 

203 



THE DEBTOR 



said Mr. Monroe was in there and heard it. I hope 
Mrs. Griggs will get her pay. They don't owe you, I 
hope, dear?" 

" Don't worry about me, mother?" Randolph replied, 
smiling. However, she had placed a finger upon a 
daily perplexity of his. The Carrolls indeed owed him, 
and every day the debt was increasing. He felt that his 
old clerk regarded him with wonder at every fresh 
entry on the books. That very day he had come into 
the office to inform him, in a hushed voice, that the 
Carrolls had sent for a pail of lard and a box of butter, 
besides a bag of flour, and to inquire what he should 
do about supplying them. 

"The girl hasn't brought any money," said he, further, 
in an ominous whisper. 

Anderson, glancing out, saw the small, sturdy, and 
smiling face of the Hungarian girl employed by the 
Carrolls. She was gazing straight through at him in 
the office with a shrewd expression in her untutored 
black eyes. "Send the order," Anderson replied, in a 
low voice. 

"But," began the clerk. 

"It's all right," said Anderson. He dipped his pen 
in the ink and went on with the letter he was writing. 
The clerk retreated with a long, anxious, wondering look, 
which the other man felt. 

The Hungarian girl plodded smiling forth with the 
promise to have the groceries sent at once. Stepping 
flat-footedly and heavily through the door, she caught 
her cotton skirt on a nail, and, lo! a rent. The boy, who 
was a gallant soul for all femininity in need, hurried 
to her aid with some pins gathered from the lapel of his 
gingham coat. Little Marie, with a coquettish shake of 
her head and a blush and smile began repairing the 
damage. 

"It is the cloth that is easy broke," explained she, 
204 



THE DEBTOR 



when she lifted her suffused but still smiling face, "and 
I a new one will have when I haf my money, my vage." 
With that Marie was gone, her poor gown scalloping 
around her heavy, backward heels, her smiling glance of 
artless coquetry over her shoulder to the last, and the boy 
and the old clerk looked at each other. The boy whistled. 

Just then the delivery-wagon drove up in front of the 
store. The driver, who was a young fellow in the first 
stages of pulmonary consumption, got down with weakly 
alacrity from the seat and came in to get the new orders. 
He coughed as he entered, but he looked radiant. He 
was driving the delivery -wagon in the hope of recovering 
his health by out-of-door life, and he was, or flattered 
himself that he was, perceptibly gaining. 

"Where's the next delivery ?" he inquired, hoarsely. 

"Wait a minute, ,, said the old clerk, and again in- 
vaded the office. 

"They 'ain't paid their hired girl," he said, in a whis- 
per. "Had we better — " 

"Better what?" said Anderson, impatiently, though 
he looked confused. 

"Better send them things to the Carrolls' ?" 

"Didn't I tell you? What—" 

"Oh, all right, sir," said the clerk, and retreated 
hastily. At times he had an awe of his employer. 

"Goin' to take all that truck to the Carrolls'?" in- 
quired the consumptive deliverer. 

"Yep," replied the boy, lugging out the flour-bag. 

"Credit," whispered the man. 

The boy nodded. 

The man essayed a whistle, but he coughed. "Well, 
it's none of my funeral," he declared, when he got his 
breath, "but I hear he's a dead-beat. I s'pose he 
knows what he is about." 

"If he don't, nobody is goin' to tell him, you bet," 
said the boy, succinctly. 

205 



THE DEBTOR 

"Well, it's none of my funeral," said the man, and he 
coughed again, and gathered up the reins, and drove 
away in a cloud of dust down the street. It had not 
rained for two weeks and the roads gave evidence of it. 

Anderson, back in his office, heard the sound of the 
retreating wheels with a feeling of annoyance, even 
scorn of himself for his gullibility, and his stress upon 
the financial part of the affair. 

He was losing a good deal of money, and he did not 
wish to do so. "I am a fool," he told himself, with 
that voice of mentality which sounds the loudest, to 
the consciousness, of any voice on earth. He frowned, 
then he laughed a little, and began mounting a fine 
new butterfly specimen. "Other men marry and spend 
their hard earnings in that way, on love," said he. 
"Why should I not spend mine after this fashion if I 
choose?" 

That noon, as he passed out of the store on his way 
home to dinner, Ina and Charlotte came out of the 
dressmaker's opposite. They looked flushed and hap- 
pily excited. Charlotte carried a large parcel. They 
rushed past without seeing him at all, as he gained the 
opposite sidewalk. He walked along, grave and self- 
possessed. Nobody seeing him would have dreamed 
of his inward perturbation, that spiritual alienation as 
secret as the processes of the body. 

Nobody could have suspected how his fond thought 
and yearning followed one of those small, hurrying, 
girlish figures. In a way the man, even with his frus- 
trated aims in the progress of life, was so superior to 
the little, unconscious feminine thing whose chief assets 
of life were her youth and innocence, and even those 
of slight weight against the man's age and innocence, 
that it seemed a pity. 

It was not a case of pearls before swine, but seemingly 
rather of pearls before canary-birds or butterflies, which 

206 



THE DEBTOR 



would not defile them, but flutter over them unheed- 
ingly. 

However, it may be better to cast away one's pearls 
of love before anything, rather than keep them. An- 
derson, walking along home to his dinner in the summer 
noon, loving foolishly and unreasonably this young girl 
who would never, probably, place the slightest value on 
his love, was not actively unhappy. After he had turned 
the corner of the street on which his house stood he heard 
the whistle of the noon-train, and soon the carriages from 
the station came whirling in sight. 

Samson Rawdy came first, driving a victoria in which 
sat the gentlerflan who had been pointed out to him as 
Ina Carroll's fiance. He glanced at him approvingly, 
and the thought even was in his mind that had this 
stranger been going to marry Charlotte, instead of her 
sister, he could have had nothing to say against his 
appearance. Suddenly, Major Arms in the victoria 
looked full at him and bowed, raising his hat in his 
soldierly fashion. Anderson was surprised, but returned 
the salutation promptly. 

"Who was that gentleman bowing to you?'' his 
mother asked, as he went up the front steps. She was 
standing on the porch in her muslin morning panoply. 

"He is the gentleman who is to marry the eldest 
daughter of Captain Carroll," replied Anderson. 

"Do you know him?" 

"No." 

"He bowed." 

"I suppose he thought he recognized me." 

"He looks old enough to be her grandfather, but he 
looks like a fine man. I hope she will make him a good 
wife. It is a risk for a man of his age, marrying a little 
young thing. I wonder why Samson Rawdy was bring- 
ing him from the station. Strange the Carroll carriage 
didn't meet him, wasn't it?" 

207 



THE DEBTOR 

"Perhaps they were not expecting him," replied 
Randolph, which was true. 

The carriage occupied by Major Arms and Samson 
Rawdy overtook Ina and Charlotte before they had walked 
far, in front of Drake's drug-store. They had stopped in 
there for soda, in fact, and were just coming out. 

"Why, there's Major Arms!" cried Charlotte, so loud- 
ly that some lounging men in the drug - store heard 
her. Drake, Amidon, and the postmaster, who had 
just stopped, stood in the doorway, with no attempt to 
disguise their interest, and watched Major Arms spring 
out of the carriage like a boy, kiss his sweetheart, utterly 
unmindful of their observance, then assist the sisters to 
the back seat, and spring to the front himself. 

"Pretty spry for an old boy," remarked the post- 
master as the carriage rolled away. 

"Oh, he's Southern," returned Amidon, easily. 
"That is why. Catch a Yankee his age with joints as 
limber. The cold winters here stiffen folk up quick 
after they get middle-aged." 

"You don't seem very stiff in the joints," said Drake, 
jocularly. "Guess you are near as old as that man." 

"I'm a right smart stiffer than I'd been ef I'd stayed 
South," replied Amidon. 

Then the postmaster wondered, as Mrs. Anderson had 
done, why Major Arms was driving up with Samson 
Rawdy rather than in the Carroll carriage, and the 
others opined, as Randolph had done, that they had not 
expected him. 

"I don't see, for my part, what they get to feed him 
on when he comes," said Amidon, wisely. 

The postmaster and Drake looked at him with ex- 
pressions like hunting-dogs, although a certain wisdom 
as to his meaning was evident in both faces. 

"I suppose it's getting harder and harder for them to 
get credit," said Drake. 

208 



THE DEBTOR 



" Harder, " returned Atnidon. "I guess it is. I had 
it from Strauss this morning, that he wouldn't let them 
have a pound of beef without cash, and I know that 
Abbot stopped giving them anything some time ago.'' 

"How do they manage, then?" asked the postmaster. 

"Strauss says sometimes they send a little money and 
get a little, the rest of the time he guesses they go with- 
out; live on garden-sauce — they've got a little garden, 
you know, or grocery stuff." 

"Can they get trusted at the grocer's?" 

"Ingram won't trust 'em, but Anderson lets 'em have 
all they want, they say." 

"S'pose he knows what he's about." 

"Lawyers generally do," said Drake. 

"He wasn't much of a lawyer, anyhow," said Amidon. 

"That's so. He didn't set the river afire," remarked 
the postmaster. 

"I don't believe, if Anderson trusts him, but he 
knows what he is about," said the druggist. "I guess 
he knows he's goin' to get his pay." 

"Mebbe some of those fine securities of his will come 
up sometime," Amidon said. "I heard they'd been 
slumpin' lately. Guess there's some Banbridge folks 
got hit pretty bad, too." 

"Who?" asked Drake, eagerly. 

"I heard Lee was in it, for one, and I guess there's 
others. I must light out of this. It's dinner - time. 
Where's that arrow-root ? My wife's got to make arrow- 
root gruel for old Mrs. Joy. She's dreadful poorly. Oh, 
there it is!" 

Amidon started, and the postmaster also. In the 
doorway Amidon paused. "Suppose you knew Carroll 
was away?" he said. 

"No," said Drake. 

"Yes, he's been gone a week; ain't coming home till 
the day before the wedding. Their girl told ours. 

209 



THE DEBTOR 



We've got a Hungarian, too, you know. Carroll's girl 
can't get any pay. It's a dam'ed shame." 
44 Why don't she leave?" 

44 Afraid she'll lose it all, if she does. Same way with 
the coachman." 

44 Where's Carroll gone?" asked the postmaster. 

44 Don't know. The girl said he'd gone to Chicago on 
business." 

4 4 Guess he'll want to go farther than Chicago on busi- 
ness if he don't look out, before long. I don't see how 
he's goin' to have the weddin', anyway. I don't be- 
lieve anybody '11 trust him here, and, unless I miss my 
guess, he won't find it very easy anywhere else." 

4 4 They say the man the girl's goin' to marry is rich. 
Maybe he'll foot the bills," said Drake. 

44 Mebbe he is," assented Amidon. Then he went out 
in earnest, and the postmaster with him. 

44 Look at here," said Amidon, mysteriously, as the 
two men separated on the next corner. 44 I'll tell you 
something, if you want to know." 

44 What?" 

44 1 believe Drake trusts those Carrolls a little." 



CHAPTER XVIII 



There was in Banbridge, at this date, almost univer- 
sal distrust of Carroll, but very little of it was expressed, 
for the reason, common to the greater proportion of 
humanity: the victims in proclaiming their distrust 
would have proclaimed at the same time their victimiza- 
tion. It was quite safe to assume that the open de- 
tractors of Carroll had not been duped by him; it was 
also quite safe to assume that many of those who either 
remained silent or declared their belief in him had suf- 
fered more or less. The latter were those who made it 
possible for the Carrolls to remain in Banbridge at all. 
There were many who had a lingering hope of securing 
something in the end, who did not wish Carroll to depart, 
and who were even uneasy at his absence, although the 
fact of his family remaining and of the wedding prepara- 
tions for his daughter going on seemed sufficient to allay 
suspicions. It is generally true that partisanship, even of 
the few, counts for more than disparagement of the many, 
with all right-intentioned people who have a reasonable 
amount of love for their fellow-men. Somehow partisan- 
ship, up to a certain limit, beyond which the partisan 
appears a fool to all who listen to him, seems to give 
credit to the believer in it. At all events, while the 
number of Arthur Carroll's detractors was greatly in 
advance of his adherents, the moral atmosphere of 
Banbridge, while lowering, was still very far from cy- 
clonic for him. He got little credit, yet still friendly, 
admiring, and even obsequious recognition. 



THE DEBTOR 

The invitations to his daughter's wedding had been 
eagerly accepted. The speculations as to whether the 
bills would be paid or not added to the interest. In 
those days the florist and the dressmaker were quite 
local celebrities. They looked anxious, yet rather pleas- 
antly self-conscious. The dressmaker bragged by day 
and lay awake by night. Every time the florist felt 
uneasy, he slipped across to the nearest saloon and got 
a drink of beer. After that, when asked if he did not 
feel afraid he would lose money through the Carroll 
wedding, he said something about the general esteem 
in which people should be held who patronized local 
industries, in his thick German-English, grinned, and 
shambled back, his fat hips shaking like a woman's, to 
his hot-houses, and pottered around his geraniums and 
decorative palms. 

On the Sunday morning before the wedding there 
were an unusual number of men in the barber-shop — 
old Eastman, Frank's father, who generally shaved him- 
self, besides Amidon, Drake, the postmaster, Tappan the 
milkman, and a number of others. Amidon was in the 
chair, and spoke whenever it did not seem too hazardous. 
He had just had his hair cut also, as a delicate conces- 
sion to the barber on the part of a free customer on a 
busy morning, and his rather large head glistened like a 
silver ball. 

"Reckon Carroll must have gone out West promotin' 
to raise a little wind for the weddin'," he said. 

"I haven't seed him, and I atropined he had not come 
back yet," remarked the barber. 

Lee looked up from his Sunday paper — all the men 
except young Willy Eddy were provided with Sunday 
papers; he waited patiently for a spare page finished 
and thrown aside by another. Besides the odors of 
soap and perfumed oils and bay-rum and tobacco- 
smoke, that filled the little place, was the redolence of 

212 



THE DEBTOR 



fresh newspapers, staring with violent head-lines, and 
as full of rustle as a forest. 

Lee looked up from his paper, and gave his head a 
curious, consequential toss. He had been shaved him- 
self, and his little tuft of yellow beard was trimmed to 
a nicety. He looked sleek and well - dressed, and he 
had always his indefinable air of straining himself fur- 
tively upon tiptoe to reach some unattainable height. 
Lee's consequentiality had something painful about it 
at times. 

"I guess Captain Carroll hadn't any need to go out 
West promoting. I rather think he can find all the 
business he wants right here," he said. 

Tappan the milkman, bearded and grim, looked up 
from an article on the coal strike. " Guess he can find 
about fools enough right here to work on, that's right," 
said he, and there was a laugh. 

Lee's small blond face colored furiously; his voice was 
shrill in response. " Perhaps those he doesn't work, as 
you call it, are bigger fools than those he does," said he. 

"Say," said the milkman, with a snarling sort of 
humor. He fastened brutally twinkling eyes on Lee. 
Everybody waited; the little barber held the razor 
poised over Amidon's chin. ' ' When do your next divi- 
dends come in?" he inquired. 

Lee gave an angry sniff, and flirted up his paper before 
his face. 

"Why don't ye say?" pressed Tappan, with a hard 
wink at the others. 

" I don't know that it is any of your business," replied 
Lee. 

"Ask when the millennium's comin'," said Amidon, 
in the chair. 

"I wish I was as sure of the millennium as I am of 
those dividends," declared Lee, brought to bay. 

"Glad you've got faith in that dead-beat. He's 
213 



THE DEBTOR 



owin' me for fifteen dollars' worth of milk-tickets, and I 
can't get a dam'ed penny of it," said Tappan. He gave 
the sheet of paper he held a vicious crumple and flung 
it to the floor, whence little Willy Eddy timidly and soft- 
ly gathered it up. "Gittin' up at four o'clock in the 
mornin'," continued the milkman, in a cursing voice, 
"an' milkin' a lot of dam'ed old kickin' cows, and gittin' 
on the road half -dead with sleep, to make a present to 
whelps like him, goin' to the City dressed up like Mor- 
gan hisself, ridin' to the station in a carriage he 'ain't 
paid for, with a man drivin' that can't git a cent out 
of him. Talk about coal strikes! Lord! I could give 
them miners points. Strikin' for eight hours a day! 
Lord! what's that? Here I've got to go home an' hay, 
if it is Sunday, to git enough for them dam'ed cows to 
eat in the winter ! Eight hours ! Hm ! I work eighteen 
an' I 'ain't got anybody over me to strike again', 'cept 
the Almighty, an' I rather guess He wouldn't make 
much account of it. Guess he'd starve me out ef I 
quit work, and not make much bones of it. I can stop 
peddlin' milk to sech as Carroll, but the milk sours, an' 
hanged if I know who suffers most. Here's my wife 
been makin' dam'ed little pot-cheeses out of the sour 
milk as 'tis, and sellin' 'em for two cents apiece. They're 
hangin' all over the bushes tied up in little rags. She's 
got to work all day to-day makin' butter to save the 
cream, and then I s'pose I've got to hustle round and 
find somebody to give the butter to. Carroll ain't the 
only one. I wish they all had to work as hard as I do 
one day for the things they git for nothin', the whole 
bilin' lot of 'em. He's the worst, though. What business 
did he have settlin' down on us here in Banbridge, I'd 
like to know? If he'd got to steal to feather his nest, 
why didn't he go to some other place, confound him?" 
The milkman's voice and manner were malignant. 
The barber looked at him with some apprehension, 
214 



THE DEBTOR 



but he spoke, still holding his razor aloft. "Now I 
rather guess you are jumpin' at exclusions too hasty, 
Mr. Tappan," said he, in an anxiously pacific voice. " I 
don't know about them dividends Mr. Lee's talkin' 
about. Captain Carroll, he gave me a little dip." The 
barber winked about mysteriously. "He told me he'd 
tell me when to come in, and he ain't told me yet, but 
I ain't no disprehension, but he's all right. Captain 
Carroll is a gentleman, he is." Flynn's voice fairly 
quivered with affectionate championship. There were 
tears in his foolish eyes. He bent over Amidon's face, 
which grinned up at him cautiously through the lather. 

"Let him pay me them milk-tickets, then, if he's all 
right," Tappan said, viciously. 

"He will when he's disembarrassed and his advent- 
ures are on a dividend-paying adipoise," said the barber, 
in a tearful voice. 

"I think he is all right," said the druggist. 

Then little Willy Eddy added his pipe. He had been 
covertly smoothing out Tappan's crumpled newspaper. 
" He's real nice-spoken," said he. " I guess he will come 
right in time." 

Tappan turned on him and snatched back his news- 
paper. "Here, I ain't done with that," he said; "I've 
got to take it home to my wife." Then he added, 
"For God's sake, you little fool, he ain't been swipin' 
anything from you, has he?" 

Then the barber arose to the situation. He advanced, 
razor in hand. He strode up to the milkman and stood 
dramatically before him, arm raised and head thrown 
back. "Now, look at here," he proclaimed, in a high 
falsetto, "I ain't agoin' to hear no asparagusment of 
my friends, not here in this tonsorial parlor. No, sir!" 
There was something at once touching, noble, and ab- 
surd about the demonstration. The others chuckled, 
then sobered, and watched. 
15 215 



THE DEBTOR 



Tappan stared at him a second incredulously. Then 
he grinned, showing his teeth like a dog. 

"Lord! then that jailbird is one of your friends, is 
he ?" he said. He had just lit his pipe. He puffed at it, 
and deliberately blew the smoke into the little barber's 
face. 

Flynn bent over towards him with a sudden motion, 
and his mild, consequential face in the cloud of smoke 
changed into something terrible, from its very absurdity. 
His blue eyes glittered greenly ; he lifted the razor and cut 
the air with it close to the other man's face. Tappan 
heard the hiss of it, and drew back involuntarily, his 
expression changing. 

"What the devil are you up to?" he growled, with 
wary eyes on the other's face. 

The barber continued to hold the razor like a bayonet 
in rest, fixed within an inch of the other's nose. " I'm up 
to kickin' you out of my parlor if you don't stop speak- 
in' individuously disregardin' my friends," said he, with 
an emphasis which was ridiculous and yet impressive. 
The other men chuckled again, then grew grave. 

" Come back here and finish up my job, John," Amidon 
called out ; yet he watched him warily. 

"Here, put up that razor!" the postmaster called out. 

"I'll put it up when you stop speakin' mellifluously of 
my friends," declared the barber. "There ain't nobody 
in this parlor goin' to speak a word against Captain Car- 
roll if I'm in hearin' ; there ain't an honester man in this 
town." 

The barber's back was towards the door. Suddenly 
Tappan's eyes stared past him, his grin widened inex- 
plicably. Flynn became aware of a pregnant silence 
thoughout the shop. He turned, following Tappan's gaze, 
and Arthur Carroll stood there. He had entered silently 
and had heard all the last of the discussion. Every face 
in the shop was turned towards him ; he stood looking at 

216 



THE DEBTOR 



them with the curious expression of a man taken complete- 
ly off guard. All the serene force and courtesy which 
usually masked his innermost emotions had, as it were, 
slipped off; for a flash he stood revealed, soul-naked, for 
any one who could see. None there could fully see, al- 
though every man looked, sharpened with curiosity and 
suspicion. Carroll was white and haggard, unsmiling, de- 
spairing, even pathetic; his .eyes actually looked suffused. 
Then in a flash it was over, and Arthur Carroll in his 
usual guise stood before them — it was like one of those 
metamorphoses of which one reads in fairy tales. Car- 
roll stood there smiling, stately, gracefully, even con- 
fidentially condescending. It was as if he appealed 
to their sense of humor, that he, Carroll, stood among 
them addressing them as their equals. 

" Good-day, gentleman/' he said, and came forward. 

Little Willy Eddy sprang up with a frightened look 
and gave him his chair, murmuring in response to Car- 
roll's deprecating thanks that he was just going; but 
he did not go. He remained in the doorway staring. 
He had a vague idea of some judgment descending upon 
them all from this great man whom they had been 
slandering. 

' 'Well, how are you, captain ?" said Lee, speaking 
with an air of defiant importance. It became evident 
that what had gone before was to be ignored by every- 
body except Tappan, who suddenly rose and went out, 
muttering something which nobody heard. Then the 
lash of a whip was heard outside, a "g'lang," with the 
impetus of an oath, and a milk wagon clattered down 
the street. 

Carroll replied to Lee, urbanely: "Fine," he said, 
"fine. How are you, Mr. Lee?" 

"Seems to me you are not looking quite up to the 
mark/ ' Lee remarked, surveying nim with friendly so- 
licitude. 

217 



THE DEBTOR 



The little barber had returned to Amidon in the chair, 
and was carefully scraping his cheek with the razor. 

"Then my looks belie me," Carroll replied, smiling. 
He offered a cigar to Lee and to the druggist, who sat 
next on the other side. 

"Been out of town?" asked the druggist. 

"Yes," replied Carroll. 

Drake looked at him hesitatingly, but Amidon, speak- 
ing stiffly and cautiously, put the question directly: 
"Where you been, cap'n?" 

"A little journey on business," Carroll answered, 
easily, lighting his cigar. 

"When did you get home?" asked Amidon. 

"This morning." 

"You certainly look as if you had lost flesh," said Lee, 
with obsequious solicitude. 

"Well, it is a hard journey to Chicago — quite a hard 
journey," remarked the druggist, with cunning. 

"Not on the fast train," said Carroll. 

"So you went on the flyer?" said the postmaster. 

Carroll was having some difficulty in lighting his cigar, 
and did not reply. 

"Did you go on the flyer?" persisted the postmaster. 

"No, I did not," replied Carroll, with unmistakable 
curtness. 

The postmaster hemmed to conceal embarrassment. 
He had been shaved and had only lingered for a bit of 
gossip, and now the church -bells began to ring, and he 
was going to church, as were also Lee, the druggist, and 
most of the others. They rose and lounged out, one 
after another; little Willy Eddy followed them. Flynn 
finished shaving Amidon, who also left, and finally he 
was left alone in the shop with Carroll, who arose and 
approached the chair. 

"Sorry to keep you waitin', Captain Carroll," said 
Flynn, preparing a lather with enthusiasm. 

218 



THE DEBTOR 



"The day is before me," said Carroll, as he seated 
himself. 

"I hope," said Flynn, beating away his hand in a 
bowl of mounting rainbow bubbles — "I hope that — that 
— your feelings were not hurt at— at — our eavesdrop- 
ping." 

"At what?" asked Carroll, kindly and soberly. 

"At our eavesdropping," reported the barber, with a 
worshipful and agitated glance at him. 

" Oh!" answered Carroll, but he did not smile. " No," 
he said, "my feelings were not hurt." He looked at the 
small man who was the butt of the town, and his ex- 
pression was almost caressing. 

Flynn continued to beat away at the lather, and the 
rainbow bubbles curled over the edge of the bowl. 
"You said that you would devise me when the time had 
come for me to invest that money," he said, diffidently, 
and yet with a noble air of confidence and loyalty. 

"It hasn't come yet," Carroll replied. 



CHAPTER XIX 



As Ina Carroll's wedding - day drew nearer, the ex- 
citement in Banbridge increased. It was known that 
the services of a New York caterer had been engaged. 
Blumenfeldt was decorating the church, Samson Rawdy 
was furbishing up all his vehicles and had hired supple- 
mentary ones from New Sanderson. 

" No girl has ever went from this town as that Carroll 
girl will," he told his wife, who assisted him to clean the 
carriage cushions. 

"I s'pose the folks will dress a good deal," said she, 
brushing assiduously. 

"You bet," said her husband. 

"Well, they won't get no dirt on their fine duds off 
your carriage-seats," said she. She was large and per- 
spiring, but full of the content of righteous zeal. She 
and Samson Rawdy thoroughly enjoyed the occasion, 
and he was, moreover, quite free from any money anx- 
iety regarding it. At first he had been considerably 
exercised. He had come home and conferred with his 
wife, who was the business balance-wheel of the 
family. 

"Carroll has been speakin' to me about providin' 
carriages for his daughter's weddin', an' I dunno about 
it," said he. 

"How many does he want?" inquired his wife. He 
had sunk on his doorstep on coming home at dusk, and 
sat with speculative eyes on the pale western sky, while 
his wife sat judicially, quite filling with her heated bulk 



THE DEBTOR 



a large rocking-chair, placed for greater coolness in front 
of the step, in the middle of the slate walk. 

" He wants all mine and all I can hire in New Sander- 
son," replied Rawdy. 

"Lord!" ejaculated his wife. "All them?" 

"All them," replied Rawdy, moodily triumphant. 

"Well," said his wife, "that ain't the point." 

"No, it ain't," agreed Rawdy. 

"The point is," said she, "is he agoin' to or ain't he 
agoin' to pay." 

"That's so," said Rawdy. 

"He's a-owin' everybody, ain't he?" said the wife. 
"Pooty near, I guess." 

"Well, you ain't goin' to let one of your cerridges go, 
let alone hirin', unless he pays ahead." 

"Lord! Dilly, how'm I goin' to ask him?" protested 
Rawdy. 

"How? Why, the way anybody would ask him. 
'Ain't you got a tongue in your head?" demanded 
she. 

"You dunno what a man he is. I asked him the 
other night when I drove him up, and it wa'n't a job I 
liked, I can tell you." 

"Did he pay you?" 

"Paid me some of it." 

"He's owin' you now, ain't he?" 

"Well, he ain't owin' much, only the few times their 
cerridge 'ain't been down. It ain't much, Dilly." 
"But it's something." 

"Yes; everythin' that ain't nothin' is somethin', I 
s'pose." 

"And now you're goin' right on an' lettin' him have 
all your cerridges, and you'll be wantin' me to help clean 
the seats, too, I'll warrant, and you're agoin' to hire 
into the bargain, with him owin' you and owin' every- 
body else in town." 

221 



THE DEBTOR 



"Now, Dilly, I didn't say I was agoin' to," protested 
Rawdy. 

"An' me needin' a new dress, and 'ain't had one to 
my back for two years, and them Carroll women in a 
different one every time they appear out, and the girl 
having enough clothes for a Vanderbilt. I guess Stella 
Griggs will rue the day. She's a fool, and always was. 
If you can afford to give that man money you can 
afford to get me a new dress. I'd go to the weddin' — 
it's free, in the church — if I had anything decent to 
wear." 

"Now, Dilly, what can I do? I leave it to you," 
asked Samson Rawdy, with confessed helplessness. 

"Do?" said she. "Why, tell him he's got to pay 
ahead or he can't have the cerridges. If you're afraid 
to, I'll ask him. I ain't afraid." 

"Lord! I ain't afraid, Dilly," said Rawdy. 

"You'd better clean up, after supper, an' go up there 
and tell him," said Dilly Rawdy, mercilessly. 

In the end Rawdy obeyed, having shaved and washed, 
and set forth. When he returned he was jubilant. 

"He's a gentleman, I don't care what they say," said 
he, "and he treated me like a gentleman. Gave me a 
cigar, and asked me to sit down. He was smokin', 
himself, out on the porch. The women folks were in 
the house. 

"Did he pay you?" asked Mrs. Rawdy. 
Then Rawdy shook a fat roll of bills in her face. 
"Look at here," said he. 
"The whole of it?" 

"Every darned mill; my cerridges and the New 
Sanderson ones, too." 

" Well, now, ain't you glad you did the way I told you 
to?" 

"Lord! he'd paid me, anyway," declared Rawdy. 
He's a gentleman. Women are always dreadful scart. ' ' 

222 



THE DEBTOR 



"It's a pity men wasn't a little scarter sometimes, " 
said his wife. 

Rawdy, grinning, tossed a bill to her. "Wa'n't you 
sayin' you wanted a dress?" said he. 

" I ruther guess I do. I 'ain't had one for two years." 

"I guess I'd better git a silk hat to wear. I suppose 
I shall have to drive some of the Carrolls' folks," said 
Rawdy, with a timid look at his wife. A silk hat had 
always been his ambition, but she had always frowned 
upon it. 

"Well, I would," said she, cordially. 

Samson Rawdy told everybody how Carroll had paid 
him in advance — "every cent, sir; and he didn't believe, 
for his part, half the stories that were told about him. 
He guessed that he paid, in the long run, as well as any- 
body in Banbridge. Carroll wa'n't the only one that 
hadn't paid him, not by a long-shot. He guessed some 
of them that talked about Carroll had better look to 
home. He called Carroll a gentleman, and any time 
when anything happened that his carriage wa'n't on 
hand when the train come in, he was ready an' willin' 
to drive him up, or any of his folks, an' if they didn't 
have a quarter handy right on the spot, he wa'n't goin' 
to lay awake sweatin' over it." 

Rawdy's testimony prevented Blumenfeldt, the florist, 
from asking for his pay in advance, as he had intended. 
He and his son and daughter, who assisted him in his 
business, decorated the church and the Carroll house, 
and wagons laden with palms and flowers were constant- 
ly on the road. Tuesday, the day before the wedding, 
was unusually warm. Banbridge had an air of festive 
weariness. Everybody who passed the church stopped 
and stared at the open doors and the wilting grass leaves 
strewn about. 

Elsa Blumenfeldt, in a blue shirt - waist and black 
skirt, with the tightest of fair braids packed above a 

223 



THE DEBTOR 



round, pink face, with eyes so blue they looked opaque, 
tied and wove garlands with the stolid radiance of her 
kind. Her brother Franz worked as she did. Only 
the father Blumenfeldt, who was of a more nervous 
strain, flew about in excitement, his fat form full of 
vibrations, his fat face blazing, contorting with frantic 
energy. 

"It iss ein goot yob," he repeated, constantly — "ein 
goot yob." Not a doubt was left. When he came in 
contact with Carroll he bowed to the ground ; he was full 
of eager protestations, of almost hysterical assertions. 
All day long he was in incessant and fruitless motion, 
buzzing, as it were, over his task, conserving force only 
in the heat of his own spirit, not in the performance of 
the work. Meanwhile the son and daughter, dogged, 
undiverted, wrought with good results, weaving many 
a pretty floral fancy with their fat fingers. Eddy Car- 
roll had taken it upon himself to guard the church doors 
and prevent people from viewing the splendors before 
the appointed time. All the morning he had waged war 
with sundry of his small associates, who were restrained 
from forcible entry only by the fear of the Blumenfeldt 
family. 

"Mr. Blumenfeldt says he'll run anybody out who 
goes in, and kick 'em head over heels all the way down 
the aisle and down the steps," Eddy declared, menda- 
ciously, to everybody, even his elders. 

"I think you are telling a lie, little boy," said Mrs. 
Samson Rawdy, who had come with a timid female 
friend on a tour of inspection. Mrs. Rawdy, in virtue 
of her husband's employment, felt a sort of proprietor- 
ship in the occasion. 

"There won't be a mite of trouble about our goin' in 
to see the church," she told the friend, who was a hum- 
ble soul. 

But Mrs. Rawdy reckoned without Eddy Carroll. 

224 



THE DEBTOR 



When she told him that he was telling a lie, he smiled 
sweetly at her. 

" You're telling a lie yourself, missis, " said he. 

Mrs. Rawdy essayed to push past him, but as he stood 
directly in the door, and she was unable, on account of 
her stout habit of body, to pass him, and hardly ventured 
to forcibly remove him, she desisted. " You are a sassy 
•little boy," said she, "and if your sister is as sassy as 
her brother, I pity the man that's goin' to marry her." 

In reply Eddy made up an impish face at her as she 
retreated. Then he entered the church himself to in- 
spect progress, returning immediately to take up his 
position of sentry again. About noon Anderson passed 
on his way to the post-office, and nodded. 

"You can't come in," the boy called out. 

"All right," Anderson responded. But then Eddy 
made a flying leap from the church door and caught 
hold of his arm. 

"Say, you can, if you won't tell anybody about it," 
he whispered, as if the curious village was within ear- 
shot. 

"I am afraid I cannot stop now, thank you," Ander- 
son replied, smiling. 

"You ain't mad, are you?" 

Anderson assured him that he was not. 

"They didn't tell me to keep folks out," Eddy ex- 
plained, "but I made up my mind I didn't want every- 
body seeing it till it was done. It's going to be a stun- 
ner, I can tell you. There's palms and pots of flowers, 
and yards and yards of white and green ribbon tied in 
bows, and the pews are all tied round with evergreen 
boughs, and to-morrow the smilax is going up. I tell 
you, it's fine." 

" It must be," said Anderson. He strove to move on, 
but could not break free from the boy's little, clinging 
hand. "Just come up the steps and peek in," pleaded 

225 



THE DEBTOR 



Eddy. So Anderson yielded weakly and let himself be 
pulled up the steps to the entrance of the church. 

" Ain't it handsome ?" asked Eddy, triumphantly. 

"Very," replied Anderson. 

"Say," said Eddy, "was it as handsome when you 
were married yourself?" 

"I never was married," replied Anderson, laughing. 

"You weren't?" said Eddy, staring at him. "Why, 
I thought you were a widow man." 

"No," said Anderson. 

"Well, why were you never married?" asked Eddy, 
sharply. 

"Oh, for a good many reasons which I have never 
formulated sufficiently to give," replied Anderson. 

''I hate big words," said Eddy, "and I didn't think 
you would do it. It's mean." 

"So it is," said Anderson, with a kindly look at him. 
"Well, all I meant was I couldn't give my reasons with- 
out thinking it over." 

"Perhaps you'll tell me when you get them thought 
over," said Eddy, accepting the apology generously. 

"Perhaps." 

Anderson turned to go, after saying again that the 
church was very handsomely decorated, and Eddy still 
kept at his side. 

"You didn't stay not married because you couldn't 
get a girl to marry you, anyhow, I know that," said 
he, "because you are an awful handsome man. You 
are better-looking than Major Arms. I should think 
Ina would a heap rather have married you." 

"Thank you," said Anderson. 

"You are going to the wedding, aren't you?" asked 
Eddy. 

"No, I think not." 

"Why not?" 

" I am very busy." 

226 



THE DEBTOR 



"Why, you don't keep your store open Wednesday 
evening ?" asked Eddy, regarding him sharply. 

"I have letters to write," replied Anderson. 

"Oh, shucks! let the letters go!" cried the boy. 
"There's going to be stacks of fun, and lots of things 
to eat. There's chicken salad and lobster, and sand- 
wiches, and ice-cream and cake, and coffee and cake, 
and — " The boy hesitated; then he spoke again in a 
whisper of triumph that had its meaning of pathos: 
"They are all paid for. I know, for I heard papa tell 
Major Arms. The carriages are paid for, too, and the 
florist is going to be paid." 

"That's good," said Anderson. 

"Yes, sir, so the things are sure to be there. They 
won't back out at the last minute, as they do sometimes. 
Awful mean, too. Say, you'd better come. Your 
mother can come, too. She likes ice-cream, don't she?" 

Anderson said that he believed she did. 

"Well, she'll be sure to get all she can eat," said 
Eddy. "Tell her to come. I like your mother." He 
clung closely to the man's arm and walked along the 
street with him, forgetting his post as guardian of the 
church. "You'll come, won't you?" he said. 

"No. I shall be too busy, my son," said Anderson, 
smiling; and finally Eddy retreated dissatisfied. When 
he went home an hour later he burst into the house with 
a question. 

"Say," he asked Charlotte, "I want to know if Mr. 
Anderson and his mother were asked to the wed- 
ding." 

Charlotte was hurrying through the hall with white 
and green ribbons flying around her, en route to trim 
the bay-window where the bridal couple were to stand 
to receive the guests. "Oh, Eddy, dear," she cried, "I 
can't stop now; indeed I can't. I don't know who was 
invited and who not." 

227 



THE DEBTOR 



"But, Charlotte," Eddy persisted, "I want to know 
particularly. Please tell me. honey." 

Then Charlotte stopped and looked back over her 
great snarl of white and green ribbon. 4 'Who did you 
say, dear?" she asked. "Hurry! I can't stop." 

"Mr. Anderson," repeated Eddy. "Mr. Anderson 
and his mother." 

"Mr. Anderson and his mother?" repeated Charlotte, 
vaguely, and just then Anna Carroll came with a little 
table which was to support a bowl of roses in the bay- 
window. 

"Mr. Anderson," said Eddy again. 
"I don't know who you mean, Eddy, dear," said 
Charlotte. 

"Why, yes, you do, Charlotte, Mr. Anderson and his 
mother." 

" What is it ?" asked Anna Carroll. " Eddy, you must 
not stop us for anything. We are too busy. 

"You might just tell me if they are asked to the 
wedding," said Eddy, in an aggrieved tone. "That 
won't take a minute. Mr. Anderson. He keeps 
store." 

"Gracious!" cried Anna Carroll. "The child means 
the grocer! No, dear, he isn't asked." 

"Why, I never thought!" said Charlotte. "No, dear, 
he isn't asked." 

"Why not?" asked Eddy. 

"We couldn't ask everybody, honey," replied Anna. 
"Now you must not hinder us another minute." 

But Eddy danced persistently before them, barring 
their progress. 

"He isn't everybody," he said. "He's the nicest 
man in this town. Why didn't you ask him ? Didn't 
you think he was nice enough, I'd like to know?" 

"Of course he is nice, dear, said Charlotte; "very 
nice." She flushed a little. 

228 



THE DEBTOR 



"Why didn't you ask him, then?" demanded Eddy. 
"I call it mean." 

Anna took Eddy by his small shoulders and set him 
aside. 

"Eddy," she said, sternly, "not another word. We 
could not ask the grocer to your sister's wedding. Now, 
don't say another word about it. Your sister and I are 
too busy to bother with you." 

"I don't see why you won't ask him because he's a 
grocer," Eddy called, indignantly, after her. " He's the 
nicest man here, and he always lets us have things, 
whether we pay him or not. I have heard you say so. 
I think you are awful mean to take his groceries, and 
eat 'em, and use them for Ina's wedding, and then not 
ask him, just because he is a grocer." 

Anna's laughter floated back, and the boy wondered 
angrily what she was laughing at. Then he went by 
himself about righting wrongs. He hunted about until 
he found on his mother's desk some left-over wedding- 
cards, and he sent invitations to both the wedding and 
reception to Randolph Anderson and his mother, which 
were received that night. 

Randolph carried them home, and his mother ex- 
amined them with considerable satisfaction. 

"We might go to the ceremony," said she, with doubt- 
ful eyes on her son's face. 

"I really think we had better not, mother." 

"You think we had better not, simply to the cere- 
mony ? Of course I admit that we could not go to the 
reception at the house, since we have not called, but the 
ceremony ?" 

"I think we had better not; this very late invita- 
tion—" 

"Oh, Randolph, that is easily accounted for. It is 
so easy to overlook an invitation." 

But Randolph persisted in his dissent to the proposi- 
229 



THE DEBTOR 



tion to attend. He was quite sure how the invitation 
had happened to come at all, and later on in the day he 
was confirmed in his opinion when Eddy Carroll made 
a rush into his office and inquired, breathlessly, if he 
had received his invitation and if he was coming. 

" Because I found out you hadn't been asked, and I 
told them it was mean, and I sent you one myself," 
said he, with generous indignation. 

Anderson finally compromised by going with him to 
the church and viewing the completed decorations. He 
also presented him with a package of candy from his 
glass jars when he followed him back to the store. 

"Say, you are a brick," Eddy assured him. "When 
I am a man I am going to keep a grocery store. I'd a 
great deal rather do that than have a business like papa's. 
If you have the things yourself in your own store, you 
don't have to owe anybody for them. Good-bye. If 
you should get those letters done, you come, and your 
mother, and I'll look out you have everything you want; 
and I'll save seats in the pew where I sit, too." 

"Thank you," said Anderson, and was conscious of 
an exceedingly warm feeling for the child flying out of 
the store with his package of sweets under his arm. 



CHAPTER XX 



Carroll had arrived home very unexpectedly that 
Sunday morning. The family were at the breakfast- 
table. As a usual thing, Sunday -morning breakfast at 
the Carrolls' was a desultory and uncertain ceremony, 
but when Major Arms was there it was promptly on the 
table at eight o'clock. He had not yet, in the relaxation 
of civilian life, gotten over the regular habits acquired 
in the army. 

"It isn't hard you'll find the old man on you, sweet- 
heart," he told Ina, "but there's one thing he's got to 
have, and that is his breakfast, and a good old Southern 
one, with plenty to eat, at eight o'clock, or you'll find 
him as cross as a bear all day to pay for it." 

Ina laughed and blushed, and sprinkled the sugar on 
her cereal. 

"Ina will not mind," said Mrs. Carroll. "She and 
Charlotte have never been sleepy-heads." 

Eddy glanced resentfully at his mother. He was a 
little jealous in these days. He had never felt himself 
so distinctly in the background as during these prepara- 
tions for his sister's wedding. 

"I am not a sleepy-head, either, Amy," said he. 

"It is a pity you are not," said she, and everybody 
laughed. 

" Eddy is always awake before anybody in the house," 
said Ina, "and prowling around and sniffing for break- 
fast." 

"And you bet there is precious little breakfast to 
16 231 



THE DEBTOR 



sniff lately, unless we have company," said Eddy, still 
in his resentful little pipe; and for a second there was 
silence. 

Then Mrs. Carroll laughed, not a laugh of embarrass- 
ment, but a delightful, spontaneous peal, and the others, 
even Major Arms, who had looked solemnly nonplussed, 
joined her. 

Eddy ate his cereal with a sly eye of delight upon the 
mirthful faces. M Yes," said he, further. " I wish you'd 
stay here all the time, Major Arms, and stay engaged to 
Ina instead of marrying her; then all the rest of us 
would have enough to eat. We always have plenty 
when you are here." 

He looked around for further applause, but he did 
not get it. Charlotte gave him a sharp poke in the side 
to institute silence. 

"What are you poking me for, Charlotte?" he asked, 
aggrievedly. She paid no attention to him. 

"Don't you think it is strange we don't hear from 
papa?" said Charlotte. 

Major Arms stared at her. "Do you mean to say 
you have not heard from him since he went away?" he 
asked. 

"Not a word," replied Mrs. Carroll, cheerfully. 

"I am a little uneasy about papa," said Ina, but she 
went on eating her breakfast quite composedly. 

"I should be if I had ever known him to fail to take 
care of himself," said Mrs. Carroll. 

"It's the other folks that had better look out," re- 
marked Eddy, with perfect innocence, though would- 
be wit. He looked about for applause. 

Arms's eyes twinkled, but he bent over his plate 
solemnly. 

"Eddy, you are talking altogether too much," Anna 
Carroll said. 

"You are unusually silly this morning, Eddy," said 
232 



THE DEBTOR 



Charlotte. " There is no point in such a remark as 
that." 

"You said Arthur had gone to Chicago?" Arms said 
to Mrs. Carroll. 

"Well, the funny part of it is, we don't exactly know 
whether he has or not," replied Mrs. Carroll, "but we 
judge so. Arthur had been talking about going to 
Chicago. He had spoken about the possibility of his 
having to go for some time, and all of a sudden that 
morning came a telegram from New York saying that 
he was called away on business." 

"Amy, of course he went to Chicago," Anna Carroll 
said, quickly. " You know there is no doubt of it. " He 
said he might have to go there on business, and he had 
carried a dress-suit case in to the office, to have it ready, 
and he had given you the Chicago hotel address." 

"Yes, so he did, Anna," assented Mrs. Carroll. "I 
suppose he must have gone to Chicago." 

"You have written him there, I suppose?" said Arms, 
who was evidently perturbed. 

"Oh yes," replied Mrs. Carroll, easily, "I have written 
three times." 

"Did you put a return address on the corner of the 
envelope in case he was not there?" 

"Oh no! I never do. I thought only business men 
did that." 

"Amy doesn't even date her letters," said Ina. 

"I never can remember the date," said Mrs. Carroll, 
"and I never can remember whether it is Banbridge or 
Banridge, so I never write the name of the place, either." 

"And she always signs her name just Amy," said 
Charlotte. 

"Yes, I do, of course," said Mrs. Carroll, smiling. 
Arms turned to Anna Carroll. "You have not felt 
concerned?" said he to her. 

"Not in the least," she replied, calmly. "I have no 
233 



THE DEBTOR 



doubt that he has gone to Chicago, and possibly his busi- 
ness has taken him farther still. I think nothing what- 
ever of not hearing from him. Arthur, with all of his 
considerateness in other respects, has always been singu- 
larly remiss as to letters.' ' 

"Yes, he has, even before we were married, " agreed 
Mrs. Carroll. " Not hearing from Arthur was never any- 
thing to worry about.' ' 

"And I think with Amy that Arthur Carroll is per- 
fectly well able to take care of himself," said Anna, 
further, with her slight inflection of sarcasm. 

"I understood that he was going to Chicago, from 
something he said to me some time ago," Arms said, 
thoughtfully. 

"Of course he has gone there," Anna Carroll said 
again, with a sharp impatience. 

And then there was a whirring flash of steel past the 
window, and the fiercely hitching curve of a boy's back. 

" It's Jim Leech on his wheel, and he's got a telegram," 
proclaimed Eddy, and made a dash for the door. 

There was a little ripple of excitement. Charlotte 
jumped up and followed Eddy, but he re-entered the 
room dancing aloof with the telegram. In spite of her 
efforts to reach it, he succeeded in tearing it open. 
Charlotte was almost crying and quite pale. 

"Eddy," she pleaded, "please give it to me — please." 

"Eddy, bring that telegram here," commanded his 
aunt, half rising from her seat. 

"It is only from Arthur, saying he is coming, of 
course," said Mrs. Carroll, calmly sipping her coffee. 
"Arthur always telegraphs when he has been away 
anywhere and is coming home." 

"Eddy!" said Charlotte. 

But Eddy essayed reading the telegram with an effect 
of being in the air, such was his defensive agility. " He's 
coming, I guess," he said. "I don't think anything 

234 



THE DEBTOR 



very bad has happened. I don't think it's an accident 
or anything, but the writing is awful. I should think 
that telegraph man would be ashamed to write like 
that." 

"Eddy, bring that telegram to me," said Anna; 
" bring it at once." And the boy finally obeyed. 

Anna read the telegram and her nervous forehead 
relaxed. "It is all right," said she; then she read the 
message aloud. It was dated New York, the night 
before: 

"Am in New York. Shall take the first train home in the 
morning/ ' 

"He sent it last night at eight o'clock, and we have 
only just got it," said Ina. 

"He is all right," repeated Anna. 

"Of course he is all right," said Mrs. Carroll. "Why 
doesn't Marie bring in the eggs ? We have all finished 
the cereal?" 

"Eggs! Golly !" cried Eddy, slipping into his chair. 
"Why, it must be time for him now!" Charlotte said, 
suddenly. 

Arms looked at his watch. "Yes, it is," he agreed. 

It was not long before Samson Rawdy drove into the 
grounds, and everybody sprang up at the sound of the 
wheels. 

"There's papa!" cried Eddy, and led the way to the 
door, slipping out before the others. 

Carroll was engaged in a discussion with the driver. 
He nodded his head in a smiling aside in response to 
the chorus of welcome from the porch, and went on con- 
ferring with the liveryman, who was speaking in a low, 
inaudible voice, but gesticulating earnestly. Presently 
Carroll drew out his pocket-book and gave him some 
money. 

235 



THE DEBTOR 



"My!" said Eddy, in a tone of awe, "papa's paying 
him some money." 

Still the man, Samson Rawdy, did not seem quite 
satisfied. Something was quite audible here about the 
rest of the bill, but finally he smiled in response to Car- 
roll's low, even reply, raised his hat, sprang into his 
carriage, and turned round in a neat circle while Carroll 
came up the steps. 

"Arthur, dear, where have you been ?" asked his wife, 
folding soft, silken arms around his neck and putting 
up her smiling face for his kiss. "We have not heard 
a word from you since you went away." 

"You got my telegram?" replied Carroll, interroga- 
tively, kissing her, and passing on to his daughters. 
Eddy, meantime, was clinging to one of his father's hands 
and making little leaps upon him like a pet dog. 

"Yes," cried everybody together, "the telegram just 
came — just a minute ago." 

Anna had kissed her brother, then stepped quietly 
into the house. The others moved slowly after her. 

"How are you, old man?" Carroll asked Major 
Arms. 

"First rate," replied Arms, grasping the proffered 
hand, yet in a somewhat constrained fashion. 

"Why didn't you write, Arthur dear?" Mrs. Carroll 
asked, yet not in the least complainingly or reproachful- 
ly. On the contrary, she was smiling at him with the 
sweetest unreserve of welcome as she entered the dining- 
room by his side. 

"Breakfast is getting cold, papa," said Charlotte. 
"Come right in." 

"We have got a bully breakfast. No end to eat," 
said Eddy, as he danced at his father's heels. 

Carroll need not have answered his wife's question 
then, for her attention was diverted from it, but he did. 
"I was very busy, dear," he said, rather gravely. "You 

236 



THE DEBTOR 



were no less in mind. In fact, I never had you all any- 
more in mind." 

"You must have had a hard night's journey, papa," 
Charlotte said, as they all sat down at the table, and 
Marie brought in the eggs. 

"Yes, I had a very hard night," Carroll replied, still 
with a curious gravity. 

Charlotte regarded him anxiously. "Why, papa," 
she said, "aren't you well?" 

"Very well indeed, honey," Carroll replied, and he 
smiled then. 

The others looked at him. "Why, papa, you do 
look sick!" cried Ina. 

"Arthur, dear, you look as if you had been ill a month, 
and I never noticed it till now, I was so glad to see 
you," cried Mrs. Carroll. Suddenly she jumped from 
her seat and passed behind her husband's chair and 
drew his head to her shoulder. "Arthur, dearest, are 
you ill?" 

"No, I am not, sweetheart." 

"But, Arthur, you have lost twenty pounds!" 

"Nonsense, dear!" 

"Haven't you had anything to eat, papa?" Eddy 
asked, with sharp sidewise eyes on his father. 

Then Anna Carroll spoke. "Can't you see that 
Arthur wants his breakfast?" said she, and in her tone 
was a certain impatience and pity for her brother. 

Major Arms, however, was not a man to take a hint. 
He also was scrutinizing Carroll. "Arthur," he sud- 
denly exclaimed, "what on earth is the matter, lad? 
You do look pretty well knocked up." 

Carroll loosened his wife's arm and gave her an ex- 
ceedingly gentle push. He laughed constrainedly at 
the same time. "Anna is about right," he said. "I 
am starved. Wait until I have eaten my breakfast 
before you pass judgment on my appearance." 

237 



THE DEBTOR 



"Haven't you eaten anything since you left Chicago, 
papa?" asked Ina. 

" Never mind, dear," he replied, in an odd, curt tone, 
and she looked a little grieved. 

"Did you come on the flyer, papa?" asked Eddy. 
"What are you nudging me for, Charlotte?" 

"Papa doesn't want anymore questions asked. He 
wants his breakfast," said Charlotte. 

"No.. I did not come on the flyer," Carroll answered, 
in the same curt tone. Then for a moment there was 
silence, and Carroll ate his breakfast. 

It was Major Arms who broke the silence. "You 
got in last night," he said, with scarcely an inflection of 
interrogation. 

But Carroll replied, "I was in the hotel at midnight." 

"We have been frightfully busy since you left, Arthur 
dear," said Mrs. Carroll. "It is a tremendous under- 
taking to make a wedding." 

"How do the preparations go on?" asked Carroll, 
while Ina bent over her plate with a half -annoyed, half- 
pleased expression. 

"Very well," replied Mrs. Carroll. "Ina's things are 
lovely, and the dressmaker is so pleased that we gave 
her the trousseau. It will be a lovely wedding." 

"Where have you been all the week?" Carroll asked 
of Arms, who was gazing with an utter openness of hon- 
est delight at Ina. 

" Here some of the time, and in New York. I had to 
run up to Albany on business for two days. I got home 
Wednesday night too late to come out here, and I went 
into Proctor's roof -garden to see the vaudeville show." 

"Did you?" remarked Carroll, in an even voice. He 
sugared his cereal more plentifully. 

"Yes. I had the time on my hands. It was a warm 
night and I did not feel like turning in, and I was trail- 
ing about and the lights attracted me. And, by Jove! 

238 



THE DEBTOR 



I was glad I went in, for I saw something that carried 
me back — well, I won't say how many years, for I'm 
trying to be as much of a boy as I can for this little girl 
here — but, by Jove! it did carry me back, though." 

"What was it?" asked Charlotte. 

"Well, dear, it was nothing except a dance by a nig- 
ger. Maybe you wouldn't have thought so much of it. 
I don't know, though ; it did bring down the house. He 
was called back I don't know how many times. It was 
like a dance an old fellow on my father's plantation used 
to dance before the war. Arthur, you must have seen 
old Uncle Noah dance that. Why, now I think of it, 
you used to dance it yourself when you were a boy, and 
sing for the music just the way he did. Don't you re- 
member?" 

Carroll nodded laughingly, and went on eating. 

" Used to — I guess you did! I remember your dancing 
that at Bud Hamilton's when Bud came of age. Old 
Noah must have been gone then. It was after the war." 

"Oh, papa," cried Eddy, in a rapture, "do dance it 
sometime, won't you?" 

"I'll tell you what we will all do," cried Major Arms, 
with enthusiasm, "we'll all go to the City to-morrow 
night, and we'll see that dance. I tell you it's worth it. 
It's a queer thing, utterly unlike anything I have ever 
seen. It is a sort of cross between a cake-walk and 
an Indian war-dance. Jove! how it carried me back!" 
Arms began to hum. "That's it, pretty near, isn't it, 
Arthur?" he asked. 

"Quite near, I should say," replied Carroll. 

"Oh, papa, won't you sing and dance it after break- 
fast?" cried Eddy. 

"Now, hush up, my son," said Arms. "Your father 
has the dignity of his position to support. A gentle- 
man doesn't dance nigger dances when he is grown up 
and the head of a family. It's all very well when he is 

239 



THE DEBTOR 



a boy. But we'll all go to New York to-morrow night 
and we'll see that dance." 

" There is a great deal to do," Anna Carroll remarked. 

u Nonsense!" said the major. " There's time enough. 
Where are the Sunday papers? I'll see if it is on to- 
morrow. Have they come yet?" 

"I am going down to get shaved, and I will bring 
them up," Carroll said. 

" Don't they bring them to the door in Banbridge?" 
asked Arms, wonderingly. 

"They used when we first came here," said Eddy. 
"I guess — " Then he stopped in obedience to a look 
from his aunt. 

"I will bring them when I come home," repeated 
Carroll. 

"Well, we'll all go in to-morrow night, and we'll see 
that dance," said the major. 

But when Carroll, on his return from the barber's 
shop, brought the papers, Major Arms discovered, much 
to his disappointment, that that particular attraction 
had been removed from the roof -garden. There was a 
long and flattering encomium of the song and dance 
which upheld him in his enthusiasm. 

"Yes, it was a big thing; you can understand by what 
it says here," said he, "I was right. I'm mighty sorry 
it's off." 



CHAPTER XXI 



Anderson on Wednesday evening sat on the porch 
and saw the people stream by to the wedding. Mrs. 
Anderson, although it was a very pleasant and warm 
evening, did not come outside, but sat by the parlor 
window, well-screened by the folds of the old damask 
curtain. The wedding was at eight, and by quarter- 
past seven the people began to pass; by half -past seven 
the street was quite full of them. It seemed as if all 
Banbridge was gathering. A church wedding was quite 
an unusual festivity in the town, and, besides, there had 
always been so much curiosity with regard to the Car- 
rolls that interest was doubled in this case. His mother 
called to him softly from the parlor. " There are a great 
many going, aren't they?" said she. 
♦ "Yes, mother," replied Anderson. He distinctly 
heard a soft sigh from the window, and his heart smote 
him a little. He realized dimly that a matter like this 
might seem important to a woman. Presently he heard 
a soft flop of draperies, and his mother stood large and 
white and mild behind him. 

"They are nearly all gone who are going, I think?" 
said she, interrogatively. 

Anderson looked at his watch, holding it towards 
the light of the moon, which was just coming above 
the horizon. The daylight had paled with sudden- 
ness like a lamp burning low from lack of oil. "Yes; 
they must be all gone now," said he. "It is eight 
o'clock." 

241 



THE DEBTOR 



He rose and placed a chair for his mother, and she 
settled into it. 

"I thought I would not come out here while the peo- 
ple were passing," said she. "I have my matinee on, 
and I am never quite sure that it is dress enough for the 
porch." 

Anderson looked at the lacy, beribboned thing which 
his mother wore over her black silk skirt, and said it 
was very pretty. 

"Yes, it is," said she, "but I am never sure that it is 
just the thing to be out of my own room in. I suppose 
the dresses to-night will be very pretty. Miss Carroll 
ought to make a lovely bride. She is a very pretty girl, 
and so is her sister. I dare say their dresses will be pret- 
tier than anything of the kind ever seen in Banbridge." 

There was an indescribable wistfulness in Mrs. Ander- 
son's voice. Large and rather majestic woman that she 
was, she spoke like a disappointed child, and her son 
looked at her with wonder. 

"I don't understand how a woman can care so much 
about seeing pretty dresses," he said, not unkindly, but 
with a slight inflection of amused scorn. 

"No," said his mother, "I don't suppose you can? 
dear. I don't suppose any man can." And it was as 
if she regarded him from feminine heights. At that 
moment the longing, never quite stilled in her breast, for 
a daughter, a child of her own kind, who would have 
understood her, who would have gone with her to this 
wedding, and been to the full as disappointed as she 
was to have missed it, was strong upon her. She was 
very fond of her son, but at the moment she saw him 
with alien eyes. "No, dear, I don't suppose you can 
understand," she repeated; "you are a man." 

"If you had really cared so much, mother — if I had 
understood," he said, gently, "you might have gone. 
You could have gone with the Egglestons." 

242 



THE DEBTOR 



' 'There was no reason why we could not have gone 
by ourselves," said she, " and sat with the invited guests, 
where we could have seen everything nicely, since we 
had an invitation.' ' 

Anderson opened his mouth to tell his mother of 
the true source of the invitation; then he hesitated. 
He had a theory that it was foolish, in view of the 
large alloy of bitterness in the world, to destroy the 
slightest element of sweet by a word. It was quite 
evident that his mother, for some occult reason, took 
pleasure in the invitation. Why destroy it? So he 
repeated that she might have gone, had she cared so 
much; and feeling that he was showing a needless hu- 
mility in his own scruples, he added that he would have 
gone with her. Then his mother declared that she did 
not, after all, really care, that it was a warm night and 
she would have been obliged to dress, and after fanning 
herself a little while, went in the house and to bed, leav- 
ing him marvelling at the ways of women. The prob- 
lem as to whether his mother had really wished very 
much to go to the wedding and whether he had been 
selfish and foolish in opposing her wish or not, rather 
agitated him for some minutes. Then he gave it up, 
and relegated women to a place with the fourth dimen- 
sion on the shelf of his understanding. The moon was 
now fairly aloft, sailing triumphant in a fleet of pale 
gold and rosy clouds. The night was very hot, the night 
insects were shrieking in their persistent dissonances all 
over the street. Shadows waved and trembled over 
the field of silver radiance cast by the moon. No one 
passed. He could not see a window-light in any of the 
houses. Everybody had gone to the wedding, and the 
place was like a deserted village. Anderson felt unut- 
terably lonely. He felt outside of all the happy doors 
and windows of life. Discontent was not his failing, 
but all at once the evil spirit swept over him. He 

243 



THE DEBTOR 



seemed to realize that instead of moving in the broad 
highway trod by humanity he was on his own little side- 
path to the tomb, and injury and anger seized him. He 
thought of the man who was being married so short 
a distance away, and envy in a general sense, with no 
reference even to Charlotte, swept over him. He had 
never been disturbed in very great measure with long- 
ing for the happiness that the other man was laying hold 
of, but even that fact served to augment his sense of 
injury and resentment. He felt that it was due to cir- 
cumstances, in a very large degree to the inevitable 
decrees of his fate, that he had not had the longing, and 
not to any inherent lack of his own nature. He felt 
that he had had a double loss in both the hunger and 
the satisfaction of it, and" now, after all, had come at 
last this absurd and hopeless affection which had lately 
possessed him. To-night the affection, instead of seem- 
ing to warm the heart of a nobly patient and reasonable 
man, seemed to sting it. 

Suddenly out of the hot murk of the night came a 
little puff of cool wind, and borne on it a faint strain of 
music. Anderson listened. The music came again. 

" It cannot be possible that the wedding is just about 
to begin, " he thought, "not at this hour." 

But that was quite possible with the Carrolls, who, 
with the exception of the head of the family, had never 
been on time in their lives. It was nearly nine o'clock, 
and the guests had been sitting in a subdued impatience 
amid the wilting flowers and greens in the church, and 
the minister had been trying to keep in a benedictory 
frame of mind in a stuffy little retiring-room, and now 
the wedding-party were just entering the church. A 
sudden impulse seized Anderson. He stole inside the 
house, and looked and listened in the hall. Everything 
was dark up-stairs, and silent. Mrs. Anderson always 
fell asleep like a baby immediately upon going to bed. 

244 



THE DEBTOR 



Anderson got his hat from the hall-tree, and went out, 
closing the door with its spring -lock very cautiously. 
Then he slipped around the house and listened. He 
could hear a soft, cooing murmur of voices from the 
back stoop. The servant, as usual, was keeping tryst 
there with her lover. He walked a little farther and 
came upon their consolidated shadow of love under the 
wild - cucumber vine which wreathed over the trellis- 
hood of the door. The girl gave a little shriek and a 
giggle, the man, partly pushed, partly of his own volition, 
started away from her and stood up with an incoherent 
growl of greeting. 

"Good-evening," said Anderson. "Jane, I am going 
out, and my mother has gone up-stairs. If you will 
be kind enough to have a little attention in case she 
should ring." Anderson had fixed an electric bell in his 
mother's room, which communicated with the kitchen. 

"Yes, sir," said the girl, with a sound between a gasp 
and a giggle. 

"I have locked the front-door," said Anderson. 

"Yes, sir," said the girl, again. 

Anderson went around the house, and the sound of 
an embarrassed and happy laugh floated after him. He 
felt again the sense of injury and resentment, as if he 
were shut even out of places where he would not care 
to be, even out of the humblest joys of life, out of the 
kitchens as well as the palaces. 

Anderson strolled down the deserted street and turned 
the corner on to Main Street. Then he strolled on until 
he reached the church. It was brilliantly lighted. Peer- 
ing people stood in the entrance and the sidewalk before 
it was crowded. There was a line of carriages in waiting. 
But everything was still except for the unintermittent 
voices of the night, which continued like the tick of a 
clock measuring off eternity, undisturbed by anything 
around it. From the church itself a silence which could 

245 



THE DEBTOR 

be sensed seemed to roll, eclipsing the diapason of an 
organ. Not a word of the minister's voice was audible 
at that distance. Instead was that tremendous silence 
and hush. Anderson wondered what that pretty, igno- 
rant little girl in there was, to dare to tamper with this 
ancient force of the earth ? Would it not crush her ? If 
the man loved her would he not, after all, have simply 
tried to see to it that the fair little butterfly of a thing 
had always her flowers to hang over: the little sweets 
of existence, the hats and frocks and ribbons which she 
loved, and then have gone away and left her ? A great 
pity for the bride came over him, and then a flood of 
yearning tenderness for the other girl, greater than he 
had ever known. 

In his awe and wonder at what was going on all his 
own rebellion and unhappiness were gone. He felt only 
that yearning for, and terror for, that little, tender soul 
that he loved, exposed to all the terrible and ancient 
solemn might of existence, which the centuries had 
rolled up until her time came. He longed to shield her 
not only from sorrow, but from joy. He took off his 
hat and stood back in the shadow of a door on the op- 
posite sidewalk. It seemed to him that the ceremony 
would never end. It was, in fact, unusually long, for the 
Banbridge minister had much to say for the edification 
of the bridal pair, and for his own aggrandizement. But 
at last the triumphant peal of the organ burst forth, and 
the church swarmed like a hive. People began to stir. 

All the heads turned. The rustle of silk was quite 
audible from outside, also a gathering sibilance of whis- 
pers and rustling stir of curious humanity, exactly like 
the swarming impetus of a hive. Fans fluttered like 
butterflies over all this agitation of heaving shoulders 
and turning heads in the church. Outside, the people 
standing about the steps and on the sidewalk separated 
hurriedly and formed an aisle of gaping curiosity. A 

246 



THE DEBTOR 



carriage streaming with white ribbons rolled up, the 
others fell into line. Anderson could see Samson Rawdy 
on the white-ribboned wedding-coach, sitting in majesty. 
He was paid well in advance; his wife, complacent and 
beaming in her new silk waist, was in the church. The 
contemplation of the new marriage had brought a wave 
of analogous happiness and fresh love for her over his 
soul. He was as happy with his own measure of hap- 
piness as any one there. Every happiness as well as 
every sorrow is a source of centrifugal attraction. 

Anderson, watching, saw presently the bridal party 
emerge from the church. To his fancy, which naturally 
looked for similes to his beloved pursuits of life, he saw 
the bride like a white moth of the night, her misty veil, 
pendant from her head to her feet, carrying out the pale, 
slanting evanescence of the moth's wings. She moved 
with a slight wavering motion suggestive of the flight 
of the vague winged thing which flits from darkness to 
darkness when it does not perish in the candle beams. 
This moth, to Anderson, was doing the latter, fluttering 
possibly to her death, in the light of that awful primaeval 
force of love upon which the continuance of creation 
hangs. Again, a great pity for her overwhelmed him, 
and a very fierceness of protection seized him at the 
sight of Charlotte following her sister in her bridesmaid's 
attire of filmy white over rose, with pink roses in her 
hair. 

Anderson stood where he could see the faces of the 
bridal party quite plainly in the glare of the electric 
light. Charlotte, he saw, with emotion, had an awed, 
intensely sober expression on her charming face, but the 
bride's, set in the white mist of her thrown-back veil, 
was smiling lightly. He saw Arms bend over and whis- 
per to her, and she laughed outright with girlish gayety. 
Anderson wondered what he said. Arms had smiled, 
yet his face was evidently moved. What he had said 
17 247 



THE DEBTOR 



was simple enough: " Fighting Indians is nothing to get- 
ting married, honey." 

Ina laughed, but her husband's lips quivered a little. 
She herself realized a curious self - possession greater 
than she had ever realized in her whole life. It is pos- 
sible that the world is so .old and so many women have 
married in it that a heredity of self-control supports 
them in the midst of an occasion which has quickened 
their pulses in anticipation during their whole lives. 
But the bridegroom was not so supported. He was 
manifestly agitated and nervous, especially during the 
reception which followed the ceremony. He stood 
with forced amiability responding to the stilted con- 
gratulations and gazing with wondering admiration 
at his bride, whose manner was the perfection of 
grace. 

"Lord, old man!" he whispered once to Carroll, "this 
part of it is a farce for an old fellow like me, standing 
in a blooming bower, being patted on the head like a 
little poodle-dog." 

Carroll laughed. 

"She likes it, now," whispered Arms, with a fond, 
proud glance at Ina. 

"Women all do," responded Carroll. 

"Well, I'd stand here a week if she wanted to, bless 
her," Arms whispered back, and turned with a success- 
ful grimace to acknowledge Mrs. Van Dorn's carefully 
worded congratulations. As she turned away she met 
Carroll's eyes, and a burning blush overspread her face 
to her pompadour crest surmounting her large, middle- 
aged face. She suddenly recalled, with painful acute- 
ness, the only other occasion on which she had been in 
the house; but Carroll's manner was perfect, there was 
in his eyes no recollection whatever. 

Mrs. Carroll was lovely in pale-mauve crape embroid- 
ered with violets, a relic of past splendors, remodelled 

248 



THE DEBTOR 



for the occasion in spite of doubts on her part, and her 
beautiful old amethysts. Anna had urged it. 

"I shall wear my cream lace, which no one here has 
ever seen, and I think, Amy, you had better wear that 
embroidered mauve crape," she said. 

"But, Anna/' said Mrs. Carroll, "doesn't it seem as 
if Ina's mother ought not to wear an old gown at the 
dear child's wedding? I would as lief, as far as I am 
concerned, but is it doing the right thing?" 

"Why not?" asked Anna, rather tartly. Lately her 
temper was growing a little uncertain. Sometimes she 
felt as if she had been beset all her life by swarms of 
gnats. "No one here has ever seen the dress," said 
she. "And what in the world could you have prettier, 
if you were to get a new one?" 

"Oh, this Banbridge dressmaker is really making 
charming things," said Mrs. Carroll, rather eagerly. 
She had a childish fondness for new clothes. " She would 
make me a beautiful dress, so far as that goes, Anna, 
dear." 

"She has all she can do with Ina's things." 

"I reckon she could squeeze in one for me, Anna. 
Don't you think so?" 

"Then there is the extra expense," said Anna. 

"But she does not hesitate in the least to trust us," 
said Mrs. Carroll. "But maybe you are right, Anna. 
That embroidered mauve is lovely, and perfectly fresh, 
and it is very warm to fuss over another, and then my 
amethysts look charming with that." 

Therefore, Mrs. Carroll wore the mauve and the 
amethysts, and was by many considered handsomer 
than either of her daughters. There had been some dis- 
cussion about giving the amethysts to Ina for a wedding- 
gift, but finally a set of wonderful carved corals, which 
she had always loved and never been allowed to wear, 
were decided upon. Anna had given a pearl brooch, 

249 



THE DEBTOR 



which had come down from her paternal grandmother, 
and Carroll had presented her with a large and evidently 
valuable pearl ring which had excited some wonder in 
the family. 

"Why, Arthur, where did you get it?" his wife had 
cried, involuntarily; and he had laughed and refused to 
tell her. 

Ina herself, while she received the ring with the great- 
est delight, was secretly a little troubled. "I am 
afraid poor papa ought not to have given me such 
a present as this," she said to Charlotte, when the 
two girls were in their room that night. As she 
spoke she was holding the pearl to the lamp-light and 
watching the beautiful pink lights. It was a tinted 
pearl. 

"It is a little different, because you are going away, 
and papa will never buy you things again," said Char- 
lotte. "I should not worry, dear." For the few days 
before her marriage, Charlotte had gotten a habit of 
treating her sister with the most painstaking considera- 
tion for her nerves and her feelings, as if she were an 
invalid. She was herself greatly troubled at the thought 
that her father had overtasked his resources to purchase 
such a valuable thing, but she would not for worlds have 
intimated such a thing to Ina. 

"Well, I do worry," said Ina. "I cannot help it. 
It was too much for poor papa to do." She even shed 
a few tears over the pearl, and Charlotte kissed and 
coddled her a good deal for comfort. 

"It is such a beauty, dear," she said. "Look at it 
and take comfort in it, darling." 

"Yes, it is a beauty," sobbed Ina. "I never saw 
such a pearl except that one of poor papa's, the one he 
has in his scarf-pin that belonged to that friend of his 
who died, you know." 

"Yes, dear," said Charlotte, "I know. It is another 
250 



THE DEBTOR 



just such a beauty. Don't cry any more, honey. 
Think how happy you are to have it." 

But Charlotte herself, after she had gone to bed in 
her own little room, had sobbed very softly lest her 
sister should hear her, until Ina was asleep. Her sister's 
remarks had brought a suspicion to her own mind. 
"Poor papa!" she kept whispering softly, to herself. 
"Poor papa!" It seemed to her that her heart was 
breaking with understanding of and pity for her father. 

Charlotte's own gift to Ina had been some pieces of 
embroidery. She was the only one in the family who 
excelled in any kind of handicraft. "Ina will like this 
better than anything," she had told her aunt Anna, 
"and then it will not tax poor papa, either. It will 
cost nothing." 

Her aunt had looked at hei a minute, then suddenly 
thrown her arms around her and kissed her. " Charlotte, 
you little honey, you are the best of the lot!" she had 
said. 

Charlotte herself, the night of the wedding, was look- 
ing rather pale and serious. Many observed that she 
was the least good-looking of the family. Several Ban- 
bridge young men essayed to make themselves agreeable 
to her, but she did not know it. She was very busy. 
Besides their one maid there were the waiters sent by 
the caterer, and Eddy was exceedingly troublesome. 
He was a nervous boy, and unless directly under his 
father's eye, almost beyond restraint when impressed, 
as he was then, with an exaggerated sense of his own 
importance. His activities took especially the form of 
indiscriminate and superfluous helping the guests to 
refreshments, until the waiters waxed fairly murderous, 
and one of them even appealed to Anna Carroll, in- 
timating in Eddy's hearing that unless the young gentle- 
man left matters to them the supply of salad would run 
short. 

251 



THE DEBTOR 



"Why didn't we have more, then?" inquired Eddy, 
quite audibly, to the delight of all within ear-shot. "I 
thought we were going to have plenty for everybody 
this time." 

"Eddy dear," whispered Charlotte, taking his little 
arm, "come with me into the hall and help me put back 
some roses that have fallen out of the big vase. I am 
afraid I shall get some water on my gown if I touch them, 
and I noticed just now that some one had brushed 
against them and jostled some out." 

"Charlotte, why didn't we have salad enough?" per- 
sisted Eddy, as he followed his sister, pulling back a lit- 
tle at her leading hand. 

"Hush, dear; we have enough, only you had better 
leave it to the waiters, you know." 

"Everybody has taken it that I have passed it to," 
said Eddy. "I have given that gentleman over there 
four plates heaped up." 

"Oh, hush, Eddy dear!" whispered Charlotte, in an 
agony. 

By this time they were in the hall, and Eddy, still 
full of grievances, was picking up the scattered roses. 
"I suppose there won't be enough salad for my friend 
and his mother when they come," said he, further. 

"Who are your friend and his mother, darling?" 

"Mr. Anderson and his mother," declared Eddy, 
promptly. "He is the best man in this town, and so 
is his mother." 

"Mr. Anderson, dear?" 

"Yes. You know who I mean. You ought to know. 
He always lets us have all we want out of his store. He 
and his mother are the nicest people in this town except 
us." 

Charlotte looked at her little brother and her face 
flushed softly. "But, dear," she whispered, "they did 
not have any invitations to the reception." 

252 



THE DEBTOR 



"Yes, they did," declared Eddy, triumphantly. 
"Why, who sent them?" 
"I did," said Eddy. 

Charlotte regarded her little brother with a curious 
expression. It was amused, and yet strangely puzzled, 
but more as if the puzzle were in her own mind than 
elsewhere. It was as if she were trying to remember 
something. 

"Don't you think he is a nice man?" asked Eddy, 
looking sharply at her. 

"Yes, dear, I think so. I don't know anything to the 
contrary." 

"Don't you think he is handsome?" 

Suddenly Charlotte saw Anderson's face in her 
thoughts for the first time very plainly. "Yes," she 
said, "of course. Let us go in the other room, Eddy, 
and see if Amy doesn't want anything." She led Eddy 
forcibly into the parlor. 

"It is so late, I am afraid he won't come," the little 
boy said, disappointedly, when the clock on the mantel 
struck eleven just as they entered. 

It was not long after that when the company began 
to disperse. The bride«and groom were to take a mid- 
night-train, and the bride and her sister stole away up- 
stairs for the changing of the tyidal for the travelling 
costume. 

Charlotte unfastened her sister's wedding-gown, and 
she was striving her best to keep the tears back. Ina, 
on the contrary, was gayer than usual. 

"It is very odd," said she, as Charlotte hooked the 
collar of her gray travelling-gown, "how a girl looks for- 
ward to getting married, all her life, and thinks more of 
it than anything else, and how, after all, it is nothing 
at all. You can remember that I said so, Charlotte, when 
you come to get married. You needn't dread it as if it 
were some tremendous undertaking. It isn't, you know." 

253 



THE DEBTOR 



44 You speak exactly as if you had died, and were tell- 
ing me not to dread dying," said Charlotte. She laugh- 
ed, and the laugh was almost a sob. 

"What an idea!" cried Ina, laughing. "Of course I 
am very sad at leaving home and you all, you darling, 
but the getting married is not so much, after all. You 
will find that I am right." 

"I shall never get married," said Charlotte. 

"Nonsense, honey! 'Deed you will." 

"No, I shall not. I shall stay with papa." 

"Yes, you will. Say, honey, Robert" — Ina said 
Robert quite easily and prettily now — "Robert has a 
stunning cousin, young enough to be his son. His name 
is Floyd — Floyd Arms. Isn't that a dear name ? And 
his father has just died, and he has the next place to 
ours." 

"Don't be foolish, dear." 

"Robert says he is a fine fellow." 

"I know all about him. I have seen Floyd Arms," 
said Charlotte, rather contemptuously. 

"Oh, so you have! He was home that last time you 
were in Acton, wasn't he ? You spoke of him when you 
came home." 

"Yes, the last term I was at school," said Charlotte. 
"Let me pin your veil, sweetheart." 

"Don't you think he was handsome?" 

"No, I don't, not so very," said Charlotte. 

"Oh, Charlotte, where did you ever see a handsomer 
man, unless it was papa or Robert?" 

"I have seen much handsomer men," declared Char- 
lotte, firmly, as she carefully pinned her sister's veil. 

"Well, I would like to know where? Not in this 
town?" 

"Yes, in this town." 

"Who?" 

" Mr. Anderson." 

254 



THE DEBTOR 



1 ' The grocer?" 

" Yes," said Charlotte, defiantly. The veil was pinned, 
and Ina turned and looked at her, a rosy vision behind 
a film of gray lace. " You look lovely," said Charlotte, 
who had a soft pink in her cheeks. 

"I think this hat is a beauty," said Ina. " Wasn't 
it lucky that New Sanderson milliner was so very good, 
and did not object to giving credit? Why, Mr. Ander- 
son is the grocer! That is the man you mean, isn't it, 
honey ?" 

"Yes," replied Charlotte, still with defiance. 

"Oh, well, that doesn't count," said Ina, turning for 
a last view of herself in the glass. "This dress fits 
beautifully." 

"I don't see what that has to do with it," said Char- 
lotte, as they left the room. She felt, even in the midst 
of parting, and without knowing why, a little indigna- 
tion with her sister. 

On the threshold, Ina paused suddenly and flung her 
arms around the other girl. "Oh, honey," she said, 
with a half -sob — "oh, honey, how can we talk of who is 
handsome and who isn't, whether he is the butcher, the 
baker, or the candlestick-maker, when, when — " The 
two clung together for a minute, then Charlotte put her 
sister gently away. 

"You will muss your veil, dearest," said she, "and it 
is almost time to go, and Amy and papa will want the 
last of you." 

That night, after the bridal pair had departed and 
everybody else had gone to bed, Anna Carroll and her 
brother had a little conference in the parlor amid the 
debris of the wedding splendor. The flowers and greens 
were drooping, the room and the whole house had that 
peculiar phase of squalidness which comes alone from 
the ragged ends of festivities; the floors were strewn 
with rice and rose leaves and crumbs from the feast; 

255 



THE DEBTOR 



plates and cups and saucers or fragments stood about 
everywhere; the chairs and tables were in confusion. 
Anna, who had been locking up the silver for the night, 
had come into the parlor, and found her brother stand- 
ing in a curious, absent-minded fashion in the middle of 
the floor. 

"Why, Arthur!" said she. "I thought you had gone 
to bed." 

"I am going," said he, but he made no move. 

Anna looked at him, and her expression was weary 
and a little bitter. "Well, it is over," said she. 

Carroll nodded. " Yes," he said, with a half -suppress- 
ed sigh. 

Anna glanced around the room. "This house is a 
sight for one maid to wrestle with," said she; and her 
brother, beyond a glance of the utmost indifference 
around the chaotic room, did not seem to notice her re- 
mark at all. However, that she did not resent. In- 
deed, she herself was so far from taking the matter to 
heart that she laughed a little as she continued to sur- 
vey the ruins. 

" Well, it went off well; it was a pretty wedding," said 
she, with a certain tone of pleasure. 

Carroll turned to her quite eagerly. "You think Ina 
was pleased?" he said. "It was all as she wished it to 
be?" 

"What could a girl have wished more?" cried Anna. 
"Everything was charming, just as it should be. All 
I think about is — " 

"What?" asked her brother. 

"We have danced," said Anna. "What I want to 
know is, is the piper to be paid, or shall we have to dance 
to another tune by way of reprisal." 

"The piper is paid," replied Carroll, shortly. He 
turned to go, but his sister stepped in front of him. 

" How ?" she said. 

256 



THE DEBTOR 



Carroll looked down at her. 

"Yes, you are quite right, Arthur," said she. "I am 
afraid. You are, or may reasonably be, rather a des- 
perate man. You have never taken quite kindly to 
straits. If the piper is paid, I want to know how, for 
my own peace of mind. By the piper I mean the 
creditors for all this" — she glanced around the room — 
"the wedding flowers and feast and carriages." 

"I earned enough honestly," replied Carroll. He had 
a strangely straightforward, almost boyish way of meet- 
ing her sharp gaze. 

"How?" 

"You had better not press the matter, Anna." 

"I do. I am afraid." She responded to his look 
with a certain bitter, sarcastic insistence. "I have rea- 
son to be," said she. "You know I have, Arthur Car- 
roll. We are all on the edge of a precipice, but I, for 
one, do not intend to let you drag me over, and I do 
not intend that Amy and the children shall go, either, 
if I can help it. I want to know where you got the 
money to pay for the wedding expenses, and I want to 
know where you got that pearl ring you gave Ina. It 
never cost a cent under three hundred dollars." 

Carroll, looking at her, smiled a little sadly. 

"It was then," said she, "Hart Lee's pearl that he 
left you when he died — your scarf-pin." 

Carroll smiled. Anna's face changed a little. 

"I noticed that you had not worn it lately," said 
she. 

"Sooner or later it would have been the child's. It 
might as well be sooner," said Carroll, with a slightly an- 
noyed air. 

" Eddy should have had it," Anna said, with a jealous 
air. 

"That child?" 

"When he was older, of course." 

257 



THE DEBTOR 



"That is a long way ahead, " said Carroll. He moved 
to go, but again Anna stood before him. 

"Arthur," said she, solemnly, I am living with you 
and doing all I am able. I am giving my strength for 
you and yours. You know that as well as I do. You 
know upon whom the brunt here falls. I do not com- 
plain. The one who has the best strength should bear 
the burden, and I have the strength, such as it is. None 
of us Carrolls need brag of strength, God knows. But 
I want to know how you came by that money. Yes, I 
suspect, and I am not ashamed. I have a right to sus- 
pect. How did you get that money?" 

"I sang and danced for it in a music-hall, blackened 
up as a negro," said Arthur Carroll." 

"Then that was you, Arthur!" gasped Anna. 

"Yes. It was the one thing I could do to get that 
money honestly and pay the bills, and I did it. I would 
not let Arms pay." 

"I should think not," cried Anna. "We have not 
fallen quite so low as that yet. But you — " 

"Yes, I," said Carroll. " Now let us go to bed, Anna." 

Anna stood aside, but as her brother turned to pass 
her she suddenly put up her arms, and as he stooped 
she kissed him. He felt her cheek wet against his. 
"Cood-night, Arthur," she said, and all the bitterness 
was gone from her voice. 



CHAPTER XXII 



It was a week to a day after the wedding, and Ander- 
son had been to the office for the morning mail, and was 
just returning to the store when a watching face at a 
window of Madame Griggs's dress-making establishment 
opposite suddenly disappeared, and when Anderson was 
mounting the steps of the store piazza he heard a pant- 
ing breath and rattle of starched petticoats, and turned 
to see the dress-maker. 

" Good-morning,' 9 she gasped. 

"Good-morning, Mrs. Griggs, " returned Anderson. 

"Can I see you jest a minute on business? I have 
been watching for you to come back from the office. I 
want to buy a melon, if it ain't too dear, before I go, 
but I want to see you jest a minute in the office first, 
if you ain't too busy." 

"Certainly. Come right in," responded Anderson; 
but his heart sank, for he divined her errand. 

The dress-maker followed him into the office with a 
nervous teeter and a loud rattle of starched cottons. 
That morning she was clad in blue gingham trimmed 
profusely with white lace, and her face looked infinitesi- 
mal and meagre in the midst of her puffs of blond frizzes. 

"I should think that woman was dressed in paper 
bags by the noise she makes," Sam Riggs remarked to 
the old clerk when the office door had closed behind her. 

"I should think it would kinder take her mind off 
things she starts out to do," remarked Price. The 
rattle of the oscillating petticoats had distracted his 

259 



THE DEBTOR 



own mind from a nice calculation as to the amount of 
a bill for a fractional amount of citron at a fractional 
increase in the market-price. The old clerk was about 
to send a cost slip with some goods to be delivered to 
a cash customer. 

" Yep," responded Sam Riggs. "I should think she'd 
git rattled with sech a rattlin' of her petticoats." The 
boy regarded this as so supernaturally smart that he 
actually blushed with modest appreciation of his own 
wit, and tears sprang to his eyes when he laughed. But 
when he glanced at his fellow-clerk, Price was calculat- 
ing the cost of the citron, and did not seem to have 
noticed anything unusual in the speech. Riggs, who 
was easily taken down, felt immediately humiliated, and 
doubtful of his own humor, and changed the subject. 
"Say," he whispered, jerking his index-finger towards 
the office door, "you. don't suppose she is settin' her 
cap at the boss, do you?" 

"Well, I guess she'd have to take it out in settin'," 
replied the old clerk, in scorn. He had now the price 
of the citron fixed in his head, and he trotted to the 
standing desk at the end of the counter to enter it. 

"I guess so, too," said Riggs. "Guess she'd have to 
starch her cap stiffer than her petticoats before she'd 
catch him." Again Riggs thought he must be funny, 
but, when the other clerk did not laugh, concluded he 
must have been mistaken. 

The conference in the office was short, and Price had 
hardly gotten the slip made out when Madame Griggs 
emerged. Indeed, she had not accepted Anderson's 
proffer of a chair. 

"No," said she, "I can't set down. I 'ain't got but 
a minute. Two of my girls is went on their vacation, 
an' I 'ain't got nobody but Bessie Starley, an' I've prom- 
ised Mis' Rawdy she should have her new silk skirt 
before Sunday to wear to Coney Island. Mr. Rawdy 

260 



THE DEBTOR 



has made so much on hiring his carriages for the weddin' 
that he has bought his wife a new black silk dress, an' 
now he is goin' to take her to Coney Island Sunday, 
and hire the Liscom boy to take his place drivin'. Now 
what I come in here for was — " Madame Griggs lowered 
her voice; she drew nearer Anderson, and her anxious 
whisper whistled in his ear. "What I want to know 
is," said she, " here's Mr. Rawdy, an* I hear the caterer, 
were paid in advance, an' Blumenfeldt was paid the day 
after the weddin', an' I ain't, an' I wonder if I'm goin' 
to be." 

"Have you sent in your bill yet?" inquired Ander- 
son. 

"No, I 'ain't, but Captain Carroll asked Blumenfeldt 
for his bill an' he paid the others in advance, an' he 'ain't 
asked for my bill." 

"I do not see why you distress yourself until you 
have sent in your bill," Anderson said, rather coldly. 

"Now, don't you think so?" 

"I certainly do not." 

"Well," said she, "to tell the truth, I kinder hated 
to send it too quick. I hated to have it look as if I was 
scart. It's a pretty big bill, too, an' they seem like 
real ladies, an' the sister, the one that ain't married, is 
as nice a girl as I ever see — nicer than the other one, 
accordin' to my way of thinkin'. She ain't stuck up a 
mite. The rest of them don't mean to be stuck up, 
but they be without knowin' it. Guess they was brought 
up so; but Charlotte ain't. Well, I kinder hated, as I 
say, to send that bill, especially as it is a pretty big 
one. I made everything as reasonable as I could, but 
she had a good many things, an' Charlotte had her 
bridesmaid's dress, too, an' it's mounted up to consider- 
able, an' I hated to have 'em think I was dreadful scart. 
I 'ain't never been in the habit of sendin' in a bill to 
nobody, not for some weeks after the things was did, 

261 



THE DEBTOR 



an' I didn't like to this time. But I says to myself, as 
long as there had been so much talk round 'mongst folks 
about the Carrolls not payin' their bills, I'd wait a week 
an' then I'd send it in. Now it's jest a week ago to-day 
since the weddin', an' there ain't a word. I thought 
mebbe they'd ask for the bill the way they did with 
Blumenfeldt, an' now I want to know if you think I 
had better serid the bill or wait a little while longer." 

Anderson replied that he thought it would do no 
harm, that he did not like to advise in such a case. 

The dress-maker eyed him sharply and with a certain 
resentment. "Now, I want to know," said she. "I 
want you to speak right out and tell me, if you think 
I'm imposin'." 

"I don't quite understand what you mean," Ander- 
son replied, in bewilderment. He was horribly annoyed 
and perplexed, but his manner was kind, for the mem- 
ory of poor little Stella Mixter with her shower of blond 
curls was strong upon him, and there was something 
harrowingly pathetic about the combination of little, 
veinous hands twitching nervously in the folds of the 
blue gingham, the painstaking frizzes, the pale, screwed 
little face, and the illogical feminine brain. 

But the dress-maker's next remark almost dispelled 
the pathos. "I want you to tell me right cut," said 
she, "if it would make any difference if I paid you. Of 
course I know you've given up law, an' I 'ain't thought 
of offerin' you pay for advice. I've traded all I can in 
your store, though I always think you are a little dearer, 
and I didn't know but you'd think that made it all 
right; but — " 

" I do think it is all right," Anderson returned, quick- 
ly, "I assure you, Mrs. Griggs, and I have never dream- 
ed of such a thing as your paying me. Indeed, I have 
given you no advice which I should have felt justified 
in sending in a bill for, if I were practising my profession." 

262 



THE DEBTOR 



' 'Well, I didn't think you had told me anything worth 
much," said Madame Griggs, "but I know how lawyers 
tuck on for nothin', and I didn't know but you might 
feel—" 

"I certainly do not," said Anderson. 

"Well," said Madame Griggs, "I am very much 
obliged to you. I'll send the bill a week from to-day, 
and I feel a great deal better about it. I don't have 
nobody to ask, and sometimes I feel as if I didn't have 
a friend or a brother to ask whether I'd better do any- 
thing or not, I should give up. I'm very much obliged, 
Mr. Anderson." 

"You are very welcome to anything I have done," 
replied Anderson, looking at her with a dismay of be- 
wilderment. It was as if he had witnessed some mental 
inversion which affected his own brain. Anderson al- 
ways pitied Madame Griggs, but never, after his con- 
ferences with her concerning the Carrolls, did he in his 
heart of hearts blame her husband for running away. 

Madame Griggs's coquettish manner developed on the 
threshold of the office. She smirked until her little, 
delicate-skinned face was a net -work mask, and all the 
muscles quivered to the sight through the transparent 
covering. She moved her thin, crooked elbows with a 
flapping motion like wings as she smirked and thanked 
him again. 

" I should think you'd like the grocery business a heap 
better than law," said she, amiably, as she went out. 
" Oh, I want to get a melon if they ain't too dear." She 
evidently expected Anderson himself to wait upon her, 
and was a little taken aback that he did not follow her. 
She lingered for a long time haggling with Price, with a 
watchful eye on the office door, and finally departed 
without purchasing. 

Shortly after she had gone, Sam Riggs came for An- 
derson to inspect some vegetables which had been 
18 263 



THE DEBTOR 



brought in by a farmer. "He's got some fine potatoes," 
said he, "but he wants too much for 'em, Price thinks. 
He's got cabbages, too, and them's too high. Guess 
you had better look at 'em yourself, Price says." 

So Anderson went out to interview the farmer, sparse- 
ly bearded, lank, and long-necked and seamy-skinned, 
his face ineffectual yet shrewd, a poor white of the South 
strung on wiry nerves, instead of lax muscles, the out- 
come of the New Jersey soil. He shuffled determinedly 
in his great boots, heavy with red shale, standing guard 
over his fine vegetables. He nodded phlegmatically 
at Anderson. He never smiled. Occasionally his long 
facial muscles relaxed, but they never widened. He 
was indefinably serious by nature, yet not melancholy, 
and absolutely acquiescent in his life conditions. The 
farmer of New Jersey is not of the stuff which breeds 
anarchy. He is rooted fast to his red-clinging native 
soil, which has taken hold of his spirit. He is tenacious, 
but not revolutionary. He was as adamant on the 
prices of his vegetables, and finally Anderson purchased 
at his terms. 

"You got stuck," Price said, after the farmer, in his 
rusty wagon, drawn by a horse which was rather a fine 
animal, had disappeared down the street. 

"Well, I don't know," Anderson replied. "His vege- 
tables are pretty fine." 

"Folks won't pay the prices you ought to ask to 
make a penny on it." 

"Oh, I am not so sure of that. People want a good 
article, and very few raise potatoes or cabbages or even 
turnips in their own gardens." 

"Ingram is selling potatoes two cents less than you, 
and I rather think turnips, too." 

"Not these turnips." 

" No, guess not. He has his from another man, but they 
look pretty good, and half the folks don't know the dif," 

264 



THE DEBTOR 



"Well," Anderson replied, "sell them for less, if you 
have to, rather than keep them. Selling a superfine 
article for no profit is sometimes the best and cheapest 
advertisement in the world." 

Anderson stood a while observing the display of 
vegetables and fruit piled on the sidewalk before his 
store and in the store window. He took a certain hon- 
est pleasure of proprietorship, and also an artistic de- 
light in it. He observed the great green cabbages, like 
enormous roses, the turnips, like ivory carvings veined 
with purplish rose towards their roots, the smooth russet 
of the potatoes. There were also baskets of fine grapes, 
the tender pink bloom of Delawares, and the pale emer- 
ald of Niagaras, with the plummy gloss of Concords. 
There were enormous green spheres of watermelons, 
baskets of superb peaches, each with a high light of 
rose like a pearl, and piles of bartlett and seckel pears. 
There was something about all this magnificent plenty 
of the fruits of the earth which was impressive. It 
was td an ardent fancy as if Flora and Pomona had been 
that way with their horns of plenty. The sordid ques- 
tion of market value, however, was distinctly irritat- 
ing, and yet it was justly so. Why should not a man 
sell the fruits of the earth for dollars and cents with 
artistic and honorable dignity as anything else? All 
commodities for the needs of mankind are market- 
able, are the instruments of traffic, whether they be 
groceries or books, boots and shoes, dishes or furniture, 
or pictures; whether they be songs or sermons or corn 
plasters or shaving-soap; whether they be food for the 
mind or the body. What difference did it make which 
was dispensed ? It was all a question of need and sup- 
ply. The minister preached his sermons for the welfare 
of the soul ; the Jew hawked his second-hand garments ; 
everything was interwoven. One must eat to live, to 
hear sermons, to hear songs, to love, to think, to read. 

265 



THE DEBTOR 



One must be clothed to tread the earth among his fel- 
lows. There was need, and one supplied one need, one 
another. All need was dignified by the man who pos- 
sessed, all supply was dignified if one looked at it in 
the right way. There was a certain dignity even about 
his own need of two cents more on those turnips, which 
were actually as beautiful as an ivory carving. Ander- 
son finally returned to his office, feeling a little impa- 
tient with himself that, in spite of his own perfect con- 
tentment with his business, he should now and then 
essay to justify himself in his contentment, as he un- 
doubtedly did. It was like a violinist screwing his in- 
strument up to concert-pitch, below which it would drop 
from day to day. 

Anderson had not been long in his office before he 
heard a quick patter of feet outside, the peculiar clap- 
ping sound of swift toes, which none but a child's feet 
can produce, and Eddy Carroll entered. The door was 
ajar, and he pushed it open and ran in with no cere- 
mony. He was well in the room before he apparently 
remembered something. He stopped short, ran back to 
the door, and knocked. 

Anderson chuckled. "Come in," he said, in a loud 
tone, as if the door was closed. 

Then Eddy came forward with some dignity. "I 
remembered after I got in that I ought to have knock- 
ed," said he. "I hope you'll excuse me." 

"Certainly," said Anderson. "Won't you have a 
seat?" 

Eddy sat down and swung his feet, kicking the round 
of the chair, with his eyes fastened on Anderson, who 
w r as seated in the other chair, smoking. "How old were 
you when you began to smoke?" the boy inquired, sud- 
denly. 

"Very much older than you are," replied Anderson. 
Eddy sighed. "Is it very nice to smoke?" said he. 
266 



THE DEBTOR 



Anderson was conscious that he was distinctly at a 
loss for a reply, and felt like a defaulting Sunday-school 
teacher as he cast about for one. 

"Is it?" said Eddy again. 

"Different people look at it differently,' ' said Ander- 
son, and the best way is for you to wait until you are a 
man and decide for yourself/ ' 

"Is it nicer to be a man than it was to be a boy?" 
inquired Eddy. 

"That, also, is a matter of opinion," said Anderson. 

"You can do lots of things that a boy can't," said 
Eddy. "You can smoke, and you can keep store, and 
have all the candy you want." Eddy cast an innocent 
glance towards the office door as he spoke. 

"Sam!" called Anderson; and when the young clerk's 
grinning face appeared at the door, "Will you bring 
some of those peppermint - drops here for this young 
man." 

"I'd rather have chocolates, if you can't sell 'em any 
better than the peppermint-drops," Eddy said, quickly. 

When Sam reappeared with chocolates in a little 
paper bag, Eddy was blissful. He ate and swung his 
feet. "These are bully," said he. "I should think as 
long as you can have all the chocolates you want, you'd 
rather eat those than smoke a pipe." 

"It is a matter of taste," replied Anderson. 

"I'm always going to eat chocolates instead of smok- 
ing," said Eddy. " He gave me a lot. Say, I don't see 
how a boy can steal candy, do you?" 

"No. It is very wrong," said Anderson. 

"You bet 'tis. I knew a boy in New York State, 
where we used to live before we came here, that stole 
candy 'most every day, and he used to bring it to school 
and give the other boys. He used to give me much as 
a pound a day. Some days he used to give me much 
as five pounds." Then Eddy Carroll, after delivering 

267 



THE DEBTOR 



himself of this statement, could not get his young, black 
eyes away from the fixed regard of the man's keen, blue 
ones, and he began to wriggle as to his body, with his 
eyes held firm by that unswerving gaze. "What you 
looking at me that way for?" he stammered. "I don't 
think you're very polite." 

" How much candy did that boy give you every day ?" 
asked Anderson. 

Eddy wriggled. "Well, maybe he didn't give me 
more 'n half a pound," he muttered. 

"How much?" 

"Well, maybe it wasn't more 'n a quarter. I don't 
know." 

"How much?" persisted Anderson. 

"Well, maybe it might have been three pieces; it was 
a good many years ago. A fellow can't remember every- 
thing." 

"How much?" asked Anderson, pitilessly. 
"One piece." 
"How much?" 

"Well, maybe it wasn't any at all," Eddy burst out, 
in desperation, "but I don't see what odds it makes. 
I call it an awful fuss about a little mite of candy, for 
my part." 

"Now about that boy?" inquired Anderson. 

"Oh, shucks, there wasn't any boy, I s'pose." Eddy 
gazed resentfully and admiringly at the man. "Say," 
he said, without the slightest sarcasm, rather with affec- 
tion and perfect seriousness, "you are awful smart, ain't 
you?" 

Anderson modestly murmured a disclaimer of any 
especial smartness. 

"Yes, you are awful smart," declared Eddy. "Is it 
because you used to be a lawyer that you are so smart ?" 

"The law may make a difference in a man's skill for 
finding out the truth," admitted Anderson. 

268 



THE DEBTOR 



" Say," said the boy, "I've been thinking all along 
that when I was a man I would rather be a grocer than 
anything else, but I don't know but I'd rather be a 
lawyer, after all. It would be so nice to be able to 
find out when folks were not telling the truth, and try- 
ing to hide when they had been stealing and doing bad 
things. ' No, you don't,' I'd say; 4 no, you don't, mister. 
I see right through you.' I rather think I'd like that 
better. Say?" 

"What is it?" asked Anderson. 

"Why didn't you come to the wedding? I saved a 
lot of things for you." 

"I told you I thought I should not be able to come. 
I was very much obliged for the invitation," said An- 
derson, apologetically. 

"I looked for you till eleven o'clock. You ought 
to have come, after I took all that trouble to get an 
invitation for you. I don't think you were very 
polite." 

"I am very sorry," murmured Anderson. 

" I think you ought to be. You don't know what you 
missed. Ina looked awful pretty, but Charlotte looked 
prettier, if she wasn't the bride. Don't you think Char- 
lotte is an awful pretty girl?" 

"Very," replied Anderson, smiling. 

"You'd better. I heard her say she thought you 
was an awful handsome man, the handsomest man in 
this town. Say, I think Charlotte would like to get 
married, now Ina is married. I guess she feels kind of 
slighted. Why don't you marry Charlotte?" 

"Wouldn't you like some of those molasses-pepper- 
mints, now you have finished the chocolates?" asked 
Anderson. 

"No, I guess not, thank you. I don't feel very well 
this morning. Say, why don't you? She's an awful 
nice girl — honest. And maybe I would come and live 

269 



THE DEBTOR 



with you. I would part of the time, anyway, and I 
would help in the store." 

"You had better run out and ask Sam to give you 
some peppermints," repeated Anderson, desperately. 

"No, thank you. I'm real obliged, but I guess I 
don't feel like it now. But I tell you what I had a 
good deal rather have?" 

"What is that?" 

"What are you going to have for dinner?" 

"Now, see here, my son," said Anderson, laughing. 
"We are going to have a fine dinner, and I should be 
exceedingly glad to have you as my guest, but this time 
there must be no dining with me without your mother's 
knowledge." 

"Oh, Amy won't care." 

"Nevertheless, you must go home and obtain per- 
mission before I take you home with me," said Ander- 
son, firmly. 

"I don't think you are very polite," said Eddy; but 
it ended in his presently saying that, well, then, he would 
go home and ask permission ; but it was not of the slight- 
est use. "They would all want me to stay, if they 
thought anything of me. I know Amy would. Amy 
said this morning I was the worst off of them all, be- 
cause I had such a misfortunate appetite." The boy's 
ingenuous eyes met the man's fixed upon him with a 
mixture of amusement and compassion. "You see," 
added Eddy, simply, "all the things left over from the 
wedding, the caterers let us have; papa said not to ask 
him, and Amy wouldn't, but Aunt Anna did, and there 
was a lot, though folks ate so much. There was one 
gentleman ate ten plates of salad — yes, he did. I saw 
him. He was the doctor, so I suppose he wasn't ill 
afterwards. But there was a lot left. Of course the ice- 
cream melted, but it was nice to drink afterwards, and 
there was a lot of salad and cake and rolls. The cakes 

270 



THE DEBTOR 



and rolls lasted longest. I got pretty tired of them. 
But now those are all gone, and the butcher won't let 
us have any more meat, though he trusted us two days 
after the wedding, because he heard papa paid the florist 
and the liveryman, but now he has stopped again. Of 
course we have things from here, but you don't keep 
meat. Why don't you keep meat?" 

The absurd pathos of the whole was almost too much 
for Anderson. He rose and went to the window and 
looked out as he replied that it was not unusual for a 
grocer to include meat in his stock of trade. 

"I know it isn't," said Eddy, "but it would be so 
nice for us if you did, and all the poor people the butcher 
wouldn't trust. Did you ever get real hungry, and 
have nothing except crackers and little gingersnaps and 
such things ?" 

"No, I don't know that I ever did." 

"Well, it is awful," said Eddy, with emphasis. He 
started up. "Well," he said, "I'm going to run right 
home and ask Amy. She'll let me come. What did 
you say you were going to have for dinner?" 

"Roast beef," replied Anderson. 

"Goody!" cried the boy, and was off. 

Anderson, left alone, sat down and thought disturbed- 
ly. The utter futility of any efforts to assist such a 
family was undeniable. Nothing could be done. For 
a vivid instant he had an idea of rushing to the market 
and setting up surreptitiously a term of credit for the 
Carrolls, by paying their bills himself, but the absurd- 
ity of the scheme overcame him. The ridiculousness 
of his actually feeding this whole family because of his 
weakness in giving credit when not another merchant 
in the town would do so struck him forcibly. Yet 
what else could he do? He had done a foolish thing 
in allowing his thoughts and imaginations which were 
not those of a youth, and were susceptible of control 

271 



THE DEBTOR 



had he made the effort, to dwell upon this girl, who 
had never even thought of him in the same light. It 
was romance gone mad. He, an older man who had 
passed beyond the period when dreams are a part of 
the physical growth, and unrestrainable, had indulged 
himself in dreams, and now he must 'pay in foolish 
realities. He thought uneasily what a laughing-stock 
he would become if by any means the fact of his con- 
tinued credit to this non-paying family were to become 
known, and he saw no earthly reason why it should 
not become known. However, no one could possibly 
suspect the reason for his unbusinesslike credulity. It 
was simply impossible that it should enter into any 
one's head to suspect him of a passion for that little 
Carroll girl, as they would express her. If he had been 
extending sentimental credit to the Egglestons, people 
might have been quick to discover the reason in a 
lurking and extremely suitable affection for one of 
them, but this was out of the question. 

However, Anderson had not a very long time for his 
reflections, for Eddy Carroll was back, beaming. "Yes, 
Amy says I can come," he announced. 

"That is good," Anderson replied, hospitably, but he 
eyed him sharply. "You went very quickly," said he. 

"Got a ride on the ice wagon," said he. "The ice- 
man is a good feller. I asked him why he had stopped 
bringing us ice, and he said if he was running the busi- 
ness, instead of jest carting for the boss, he'd give us 
all the ice we wanted for nothing. He was going up 
past our house, and when we got there he gave me a 
big chunk of ice, and I went and got Marie, and we 
lugged it into the kitchen together. Lucky Aunt Anna 
or Charlotte didn't see me." 

"Why?" asked Anderson. 

"Oh, nothing, only they wouldn't have let me take 
it. Say, Marie was crying. Her eyes looked as red as 

272 



THE DEBTOR 



a rabbit's. I asked her what the matter was, and she 
said she hadn't been paid her wages. Say, isn't it too 
bad everybody makes such a fuss about being paid. It 
worries Aunt Anna and Charlotte awfully. Women are 
dreadful worriers, ain't they?" 

" Perhaps they are," replied Anderson, and got out a 
book with colored plates of South American butterflies. 
" I think you will like to look at these pictures," said he. 
"I have some letters to write." 

"All right," said Eddy, and spread his little knees to 
form a place for the big book. "I am glad I wasn't a 
girl," he said, in pursuance of his train of thought. 
"Golly, what a whopper butterfly!" 

"Yes, that is a big fellow," said Anderson. 

"I caught one once twice as big as that in a place 
where we used to live." 

"Don't talk any more, son," said Anderson. 

"All right," returned Eddy, generously, and turned 
the pages in silence. 

It was nearly noon when Sam Riggs came to the office 
door to announce Charlotte ; but she followed closely be- 
hind, and saw her brother over the butterfly-book. She 
was so surprised that she scarcely greeted Anderson. 

"Why, Eddy Carroll, you here?" said she. 

"Yes, Charlotte," replied Eddy, with a curious meek- 
ness. 

"How long have you been here, dear?" 

" Oh, quite a while, Charlotte. Mr. Anderson has given 
me this beautiful book to look at. It's full of butterflies." 

"That is very kind," said Charlotte. "You must be 
very careful." 

"Yes, I am," replied Eddy. "I ate up the candy 
before I touched it. Mr. Anderson gave me some bully 
candy, Charlotte." 

"That was kind," Charlotte replied, smiling a little 
uneasily, Anderson thought. 

273 



THE DEBTOR 



Then she turned to him. She had been all the time 
fumbling with a dainty little green purse, and Anderson 
saw, with a comical dismay, a check appear. She held 
it fluttering between a rosy thumb and finger in his 
direction. "Mr. Anderson, I brought in this check/' 
she began, a little hesitatingly, "and — " 

"You would like it cashed ?" asked Anderson. 

"No, not this time," said she. "Papa left it this 
morning for my mother, and I — Mr. Anderson, I know 
we are owing you, and this is a check for twenty-five 
dollars, and I should like to pay it to you for your bill." 
At the last Charlotte's hesitation vanished. She spoke 
with pride and dignity. In reality the child felt that 
she was doing a meritorious and noble thing. She was 
taking money which had been left to spend, to pay a 
bill. Moreover, she had not the slightest idea that the 
twenty-five dollars did not discharge the whole of the 
indebtedness to Anderson. She had quite a little dis- 
pute with her mother to obtain possession of it for that 
purpose. 

"I think you are very foolish, dear," Mrs. Carroll had 
said. "You might get Mr. Anderson to cash it, and 
then go to New York and get yourself a new hat. You 
really need a new hat, Charlotte." 

"I would rather pay that bill," Charlotte replied. 

" But I don't see why, dear. It would really be much 
wiser to pay the butcher's bill, and then we could have 
some meat for dinner. All we have is eggs. Don't you 
think Charlotte is very foolish, Anna?" 

"I have nothing to say," replied Anna Carroll. 

"Why not, Anna? You act very singularly lately, 
dear." 

"I want Charlotte to do as she thinks best, and as 
you think best, Amy," replied Anna Carroll, who was 
looking unusually worn, in fact ill, that morning. 

"I think Charlotte had much better get the check 
274 



THE DEBTOR 



cashed and go to New York and buy herself a new hat," 
said Mrs. Carroll. 

"No, I don't need a new hat," said Charlotte, and it 
ended in her going with the check to Anderson to pay 
his bill. 

In spite of his annoyance, the utter absurdity of the 
whole thing was too much for Anderson. He had little 
doubt that the check was no more valuable than its 
predecessors, and now in addition this was supposed to 
liquidate a bill of several times the amount which it 
was supposed to represent. But his mind was quickly 
made up. Rather than have brought a cloud over the 
happy, proud face of that girl, he would have sacrificed 
much more. He cast a glance around. Luckily Price, 
the elder clerk, was engaged in the front of the store, 
and Riggs was assisting the man who delivered the 
goods to carry some parcels to the wagon. Therefore 
no one witnessed this folly. 

"Thank you, Miss Carroll," he said, pleasantly, and 
took the check from the hand which trembled a little. 
Charlotte was pale that morning. It was quite true 
that she had not sufficient nourishing food for several 
days. But she was very proud and happy now, and 
she looked at Anderson as he received the check with a 
different expression from any which her face had hither- 
to worn for him. In fact, for the first time, although 
she was in reality simple and humble enough, she real- 
ized him on a footing with herself. And she could not 
have told what had led to this reversion of her feelings, 
nor would it have been easy for any one to have told. 
The forces which stir human emotions to one or another 
end are as mysterious often as are the sources of the 
winds which blow as they list. The check was indorsed by 
Anna Carroll, to whom it had been made payable. She 
had taken it from her brother that morning with a fierce 
nip of thumb and finger, as if she were a mind to tear 

275 



THE DEBTOR 



it in two. She had no idea that it was of any value, 
but, in fact, at the moment of her receiving it the money 
was in the bank. Before Anderson had sent it in the 
account was again overdrawn. Arthur Carroll was get- 
ting in exceedingly deep waters, to which his previous 
ventures had been as shallows. 

Charlotte smiled at Anderson as he took the check. 
She did not think of a receipt, and Anderson did not carry 
the matter to the farcial extent of giving her one. He 
put the check in his pocket-book and inquired whether 
she had any orders to give, and she did order some crack- 
ers, cheese, and eggs, which he called to Riggs to carry 
to the delivery wagon. 

After that was settled, Charlotte turned again to 
Eddy. "When are you coming home, dear?" said 
she. 

"Pretty soon," replied Eddy, with an uneasy hitch. 

Anderson, who had had his suspicions, spoke. " I 
have invited your brother to dine with me, and he has 
been home to ask permission, he tells me," said Ander- 
son, and Eddy cast a bitterly reproachful glance at him, 
as if he had been betrayed by an accomplice. 

"Did you go home to ask permission, Eddy?" asked 
Charlotte, gravely. 

Eddy nodded and hitched. 

"Whom did you ask?" 

Eddy hesitated. He was casting about in his mind 
for the lie likely to succeed. 
"Whom?" repeated Charlotte. 
"Amy." 

"Amy just asked me if I knew where you were," said 
Charlotte, pitilessly. 

Eddy looked intently at his butterfly-book. "This 
is a whopper," said he. 

"Come, Eddy," said Charlotte. 

"This is the biggest one of all," said Eddy. 
276 



THE DEBTOR 



"Eddy," said Charlotte. 

Eddy looked up. "I'm going to dinner with Mr. 
Anderson," said he. 

"Aunt Anna said I might." 

"You said Amy said you might," said Charlotte. 
"Eddy Carroll, don't you say another word. Come 
right home with me." 

Then suddenly the boy broke down. All his bravado 
vanished. He looked from her to Anderson and back 
again with a white, convulsed little face. Eddy was a 
slight little fellow, and his poor shoulders in their linen 
blouse heaved. Then he wept like a baby. 

"I — want to — go," he wailed. "Charlotte, I want 
to — g-o. He is going to have — roast beef for dinner, 
and I — am hungry." 

Charlotte turned whiter than Eddy. She marched up 
to her brother. She did not look at Anderson. "Beg- 
ging!" said she. "Begging! What if you are hungry? 
What of it ? What is that ? Hunger is nothing. And 
then you have no reason to be hungry. There is plenty 
in the house to eat — plenty!" She glanced with angry 
pride at Anderson, as if he were to blame for having 
heard all this. "Plenty!" she repeated, defiantly. 

"Plenty of old cake left over from Ina's wedding, and 
dry old crackers, and not enough eggs to go round," 
returned Eddy. "I am hungry. I am, Charlotte. 
All I have had since yesterday noon is five crackers 
and three pickles and one egg and a piece of chocolate 
cake as hard as a brick, besides one little, round, dry cake 
with one almond on top in the middle. I'm real hungry, 
Charlotte. Please let me go!" 

Anderson quietly went out of the office. He passed 
through the store door, and stood there when presently 
Charlotte and Eddy passed him. 

"Good-morning," said Charlotte, in a choked voice. 

Eddy looked at him and sniffled, then he flung out, 
277 



THE DEBTOR 



angrily, "What you going to take to our house ?" he 
demanded of the consumptive man gathering up the 
reins of the deli very -wagon. 
"Hush!" said Charlotte. 

"I won't hush," said Eddy. "I'm hungry. What 
are you taking up to our house? Say!" 

" Some crackers and cheese and eggs," replied the man, 
wonderingly. 

"Crackers and cheese and old store eggs!" cried Eddy, 
with a howl of woe, and Charlotte dragged him forcibly 
away. 

"What ails that kid?" Riggs asked of the man in the 
wagon. 

"I believe them folks are half starved," replied the 
man. 

Riggs glanced cautiously around, but Anderson had 
returned to his office. "I don't believe anybody in 
town but us trusts 'em," said he, in a whisper. 

"Well, I'm sorry for his folks, but he'd ought to be 
strung up," said the man. "Why in thunder don't he 
go to work. I guess if he was coughin' as bad as I be at 
night, an' had to work, he might know a little something 
about it. I ain't in debt, though, not a dollar." 



CHAPTER XXIII 



When a strong normal character which has conscious- 
ly made wrong moves, averse to the established order of 
things, and so become a force of negation, comes into 
contact with weaker or undeveloped natures, it some- 
times produces in them an actual change of moral fibre, 
and they become abnormal. Instead of a right quan- 
tity on the wrong track, they are a wrong quantity, and 
exactly in accordance with their environments. In the 
case of the Carroll family, Arthur Carroll, who was in 
himself of a perfect and unassailable balance as to the 
right estimate of things, and the weighing of cause and 
effect, who had never in his whole life taken a step 
blindfold by any imperfection of spiritual vision, who 
had never for his own solace lost his own sense of re- 
sponsibility for his lapses, had made his family, in a 
great measure, irresponsible for the same faults. Ex- 
cept in the possible case of Charlotte, all of them had a 
certain measure of perverted moral sense in the direc- 
tion in which Carroll had consciously and unpervertedly 
failed. Anna Carroll, it is true, had her eyes more or 
less open, and she had much strength of character; still 
it was a feminine strength, and even she did not look at 
affairs as she might have done had she not been under 
the influence of her brother for years. While she at 
times waxed bitter over the state of affairs, it was more 
because of the constant irritation to her own pride, and 
her impatience at the restraints of an alien and dishonest 
existence, than from any moral scruples. Even Char- 
19 279 



THE DEBTOR 



lotte herself was scarcely clear-visioned concerning the 
family taint. The word debt had not to her its full 
meaning; the inalienable rights of others faded her 
comprehension when measured beside her own right of 
existence and of the comforts and delights of existence. 
Even to her a new hat or a comfortable meal was some- 
thing of more importance than the need of the vender 
thereof for reimbursement. The value to herself was 
the first value, her birthright, indeed, which if others 
held they must needs yield up to her without money and 
without price, if her purse happened to be empty. Her 
compunction and sudden awakening of responsibility 
in the case of Randolph Anderson were due to an entirely 
different influence from any which had hitherto come 
into her life. Charlotte, although she was past the very 
first of young girlhood, being twenty, was curiously un- 
developed emotionally. She had never had any lovers, 
and the fault had been her own, from a strange persist- 
ence of childhood in her temperament. She had not 
attracted, from her own utter lack of responsiveness. 
She was like an instrument which will not respond to the 
touch on certain notes, and presently the player wearies. 

She was a girl of strong and jealous affections, but 
the electric circuits in her nature were not yet estab- 
lished. Then, also, she had not been a child who had 
made herself the heroine of her own dreams, and that 
had hindered her emotional development. 

" Charlotte," one of her school-mates, had asked her 
once, "do you ever amuse yourself by imagining that 
you have a lover?" 

Charlotte had stared at the girl, a beautiful, early 
matured, innocently shameless creature. "No,"- said 
she. " I don't understand what you mean, Rosamond." 

"The next moonlight night," said the girl, "imagine 
that you have a lover." 

"What if I did?" 

280 



THE DEBTOR 



"It would make you very happy, almost as happy as 
if you had a real one/' said the girl, who was only a 
child in years, though, on account of her size, she had 
been put into long dresses. She had far outstripped the 
boys of her own age, who were rather shy of her. 

Charlotte, who was still in short dresses, looked at her, 
full of scorn and a mysterious shame. "I don't want 
any lover at all," declared she. "I don't want an 
imaginary one, or a real one, either. I've got my papa, 
and that's all I want." At that time Charlotte still 
clung to her doll, and the doll was in her mind, but she 
did not say doll to the other girl. 

"Well, I don't care," said the other girl, defiantly. 
"You will sometime." 

"I sha'n't, either," declared Charlotte. "I never 
shall be so silly, Rosamond Lane." 

"You will, too." 

"I never will. You needn't think because you are 
so awful silly everybody else is." 

"I ain't any sillier than anybody else, and you'll be 
just as silly yourself, so now," said Rosamond. 

After that, when Charlotte saw the child sitting sunk- 
en in a reverie with the color deepening on her cheeks, 
her lips pouting, and her eyes misty, she would pass in- 
dignantly. She remembered her in after years with 
contempt. She spoke of her to Ina as the silliest girl 
she had ever known. 

Now the child's words of prophecy, spoken from the 
oldest reasoning in the world, that of established se- 
quence and precedent, did not recur to Charlotte, but 
she was fulfilling them. 

Ina's marriage and perhaps the natural principle of 
growth had brought about a change in her. Charlotte 
had sat by herself and thought a good deal after Ina 
had gone, and naturally she thought of the possibility 
of her own marriage. Ina had married; of course she 

281 



THE DEBTOR 



might. But her emotions were very much in abeyance 
to her affections, and the conditions came before the 
dreams were possible. 

"I shall never marry anybody who will take me far 
away from papa!" said Charlotte. " Perhaps I shall be 
less of a burden to poor papa if I am married, but I shall 
never go far away." 

It followed in Charlotte's reasoning that it must be 
a man in Banbridge. There had been no talk of their 
leaving the place. Of course she knew that their stay 
in one locality was usually short, but here they were 
now, and it must be a man in Banbridge. She thought 
of a number of the crudely harmless young men of the 
village; there were one or two not so crude, but not so 
harmless, who held her thoughts a little longer, but she 
decided that she did not want any of them, even if 
they should want her. Then again the face of Randolph 
Anderson flashed out before her eyes as it had done be- 
fore. Charlotte, with her inborn convictions, laughed 
at herself, but the face remained. 

" There isn't another man in this town to compare 
with him," she said to herself, "and he is a gentleman, 
too." Then she fell to remembering every word he 
had ever said to her, and all the expressions his face 
had ever taken on with regard to her, and she found 
that she could recall them all. Then she reflected how 
he had trusted them, and had never failed to fill their 
orders, when all the other tradesmen in Banbridge had 
refused, and that they must be owing him. 

"I shouldn't wonder if we were owing him nearly 
twenty-five dollars," Charlotte said to herself, and for 
the first time a thrill of shame and remorse at the con- 
sideration of debt was over her. She had heard his 
story. " There he had to give up his law practice be- 
cause he could not make a living, and go into the gro- 
cery business, and here we are taking his goods and 

282 



THE DEBTOR 

not paying him," thought she. "It is too bad." A 
feeling of indignation at herself and her family, and of 
pity for Anderson came over her. She made up her 
mind that she would ask her father for money to pay 
that bill at least. "The butcher can wait, and so 
can all the others," she thought, "but Mr. Anderson 
ought to be paid." Besides the pity came a faint real- 
ization of the other side of the creditor's point of 
view. "Mr. Anderson must look down upon us for 
taking his property and not paying our bills," she 
thought. She knew that some of the wedding bills had 
been paid, and that led her to think that her father 
might have more money than usual, but she overheard 
some conversation which passed between Carroll and his 
sister on the morning when he gave her the check. 

"Now about that?" Anna had asked, evidently refer- 
ring to some bill. 

" I tell you I can't, Anna," Carroll replied. " I used the 
money as it came on those bills for the wedding. There 
is very little left." Then he had hurriedly scrawled 
the check, which she took in spite of her incredulous- 
ness of its worth. Therefore Charlotte, when the check 
had been offered her for a new hat, for Anna had care- 
lessly passed it over to her sister - in - law, had eagerly 
taken it to pay Anderson. 

"I paid the grocery bill," Charlotte told her aunt 
when she returned. 

Anna was in her own room, engaged in an unusual 
task. She was setting things to rights, and hanging her 
clothes regularly in her closet, and packing her bureau 
drawers. Charlotte looked at her in astonishment after 
she had made the statement concerning the grocery bill. 

"What are you doing, Anna?" said she. 

Anna looked up from a snarl of lace and ribbons and 
gloves in a bureau drawer. "I am putting things in 
order," said she. 

283 



THE DEBTOR 



Then Mrs. Carroll crossed the hall from her opposite 
room, and entered, trailing a soft, pink, China-silk dress- 
ing-gown. She sank into a chair with a swirl of lace 
ruffles and viewed her sister-in-law with a comical air 
of childish dismay. " Don't you feel well, Anna, dear?" 
asked she. 

"Yes. Why?" replied Anna Carroll, folding a yard 
of blue ribbon. 

"Nothing, only I have always heard that if a person 
does something she has never done before, something 
at variance with her character, it is a very bad sign, 
and I never knew you to put things in order before, 
Anna, dear." 

"Order is not at variance with my character," said 
Anna. "It is one of my fundamental principles." 

"You never carried it out," said Mrs. Carroll. "You 
know you never did, Anna. Your bureau drawers have 
always looked like a sort of chaos of civilization, just 
like mine. You know you never carried out the principle, 
Anna, dear." 

"A principle ceases to be one when it is carried out," 
said Anna. 

"Then you don't think you are going to die because 
you are folding that ribbon, honey?" 

Anna took up some yellow ribbon. "There is much 
more need to worry about Charlotte," said she, in the 
slightly bitter, sarcastic tone which had grown upon her 
lately. 

Mrs. Carroll looked at Charlotte, who had removed 
her hat and was pinning up her hair at a little glass in 
a Florentine frame which hung between the windows. 
The girl's face, reflected in the glass, flushed softly, and 
was seen like a blushing picture in the fanciful frame, 
although she did not turn her head, and made no re- 
joinder to her aunt's remark. 

"What has Charlotte been doing?" asked Mrs. Carroll. 
284 



THE DEBTOR 



"She has been doing the last thing which any Carroll 
in his or her senses is ever supposed to do," replied 
Anna, in the same tone, as she folded her yellow ribbon. 

"What do you mean, Anna, dear?" 

"She has been paying a bill before the credit was 
exhausted. That is sheer insanity in a Carroll. If there 
is anything in the old Scotch superstition, she is fey, if 
ever anybody was." 

"What bill?" asked Mrs. Carroll. 

"Mr. Anderson's," replied Charlotte, faintly, still with- 
out turning from the glass which reflected her charming 
pink face in its gilt, scrolled frame. 

"Mr. Anderson's?" 

"The grocer's bill," said Charlotte. 

"Oh! I did not know what his name was," said 
Mrs. Carroll. 

"He probably is well acquainted with ours, on his 
books," said Anna. 

Mrs. Carroll looked in a puzzled way from her to 
Charlotte, who had turned with a little air of defiance. 
"Had he refused to let us have any more groceries?" 
said she. 

"No," said Charlotte. 

"I told you he had not," said Anna, shaking out a 
lace handkerchief, which diffused an odor of violet 
through the room. 

"Then why did you pay him, honey?" asked Mrs. 
Carroll, wonderingly, of Charlotte. 

"I paid him just because he had trusted us," said 
she, in a voice which rang out clearly with the brave 
honesty of youth. 

Suddenly she looked from her mother to her aunt 
with accusing eyes. "I don't believe it is right to go 
on forever buying things and never paying for them, 
just because a gentleman is kind enough to let you," 
said she. 

285 



THE DEBTOR 



"I thought you said it was the grocer, Charlotte, 
honey," said Mrs. Carroll, helplessly. 

"He is a gentleman, if he is a grocer," said Charlotte, 
and her cheek blazed. 

Anna Carroll looked sharply at her from her drawer, 
then went on folding the handkerchief. 

"He is a lawyer, and as well-educated as papa," 
Charlotte said, further, in her clear, brave voice, and 
she returned her aunt's look unflinchingly, although 
her cheeks continued to blush. 

Mrs. Carroll still looked bewildered. "How much 
did you pay him, Charlotte, dear?" she asked. 

"Twenty-five dollars." 

"The whole of the check Arthur gave you?" 
"Yes, Amy." 

"But you might have bought yourself a hat, honey, 
and you did need one. I can't quite understand why 
you paid the grocer, when he had not refused to let us 
have more groceries, and you might have bought a 
hat." 

Anna, packing the drawer, began to laugh, and Char- 
lotte, after frowning a second, laughed also. 

"My hat with the roses looks very nice yet, Amy, 
dear," said she, sweetly and consolingly. 

"But it is getting so late for roses," Mrs. Carroll re- 
turned. 

"The milliner in New York where Ina got her hats 
has been paid; maybe she will trust Charlotte for a hat. 
Don't worry, Amy," said Anna, coolly. 

Mrs. Carroll brightened up. "Sure enough, Anna," 
said she. "She was paid because she wouldn't trust 
us, and maybe now she will be willing to again. I will 
go in to-morrow, and I think I can get a hat for my- 
self." 

"I saw the dress-maker looking out of the window," 
said Charlotte. 

286 



THE DEBTOR 



"She did very well," said Mrs. Carroll. 
"I suppose there is no money to pay her?" said 
Charlotte. 

"No, honey, I suppose not, but dear Ina has the 
dresses and you have your new one." 

"That makes me think. I think her bill is on the 
table. It came two or three days ago. I haven't 
opened it, because it looked like a bill. Eddy brought 
it in when I was in here. Yes, there it is." Charlotte, 
near the table, took up the envelope and opened it. " It 
is only one hundred and fifty-eight dollars," said she. 

"That is very cheap for so many pretty dresses," 
said Mrs. Carroll, "but I suppose it is all clear profit. 
I should think dress-makers would get rich very easily." 

That night Charlotte was the last to go to her room — 
that is, the last except her father. He was still smok- 
ing in the little room on the left of the hall. They had 
been playing whist in there; then they had had some 
sherry and crackers and olives. Major Arms had sent 
out a case of sherry before the wedding, and it was not 
all gone. Now Carroll was smoking a last cigar before 
retiring, and the others except Charlotte had gone. 
She lingered after she had kissed her father good-night. 

"Papa," said she, tentatively. She looked very slim 
and young in her little white muslin frock, with her 
pretty hair braided in her neck. 

"Well, sweetheart, what is it?" asked Carroll, with a 
tender look of admiration. 

Charlotte hesitated. Then she spoke with such de- 
sire not to offend that her voice rang harsh. "Papa," 
said she, "do you think — " 

"Think what, honey?" 

"Do you think you can pay the dress-maker's bill?" 
"Pretty soon, dear," said Carroll, his face changing. 
"To-morrow?" 

"I am afraid not to-morrow, Charlotte." 

287 



THE DEBTOR 



' 'She worked very hard over those dresses, and she 
bought the things, and it is quite a while. I think she 
ought to be paid, papa." 

" Pretty soon, dear," said Carroll again. 

Charlotte turned without another word and went out 
of the room. Her silence and her retreat were full of 
innocent condemnation. Carroll smoked, his face set 
and tense. Then there was a flutter and Charlotte was 
back. She did not speak this time, but she ran to her 
father, threw her slight arms around his neck, and kiss- 
ed him, and it was the kiss of love which follows the 
judgment of love. Then she was gone again. 

Carroll removed his cigar and sat staring straight 
ahead for a moment. Then he gave the cigar a fling 
into a brass bowl and put his head on his arms on the 
table. 



CHAPTER XXIV 



Charlotte, before her sister was married, had been 
in the habit of taking long walks with her. Now she 
went alone. 

The elder women of the family never walked when 
they could avoid doing so. Mrs. Carroll was, in con- 
sequence, putting on a soft roundness of flesh like a 
baby, and was daily becoming a creature of more curves 
and dimples. Anna did not gain flesh, but she moved 
more languidly, and her languor of movement was at 
curious odds with the subdued eagerness of her eyes. 
In these days Anna Carroll was not well; her nerves 
were giving way. She slept little and ate little. 

"You are losing your appetite, Anna, dear," Mrs. 
Carroll said once at the dinner-table. 

"A fortunate thing, perhaps," retorted Anna, with 
her little, veiled sting of manner, and at that Carroll rose 
abruptly and left the table. 

"What is the matter, Arthur?" his wife called after 
him. "I don't see what ails Arthur lately," she said, 
with a soft tone of complaint, when the door had closed 
behind him and he had made no response. 

Charlotte adored her Aunt Anna, and seldom took 
any exception to anything which she said or did, but 
then she turned upon her. 

"Poor papa is hurt by what Aunt Anna said," she 
declared, severely, "and I don't wonder. Here he 
cannot afford to buy as much to eat as he would like, 
and hasn't enough to pay the butcher, and Aunt Anna 

289 



THE DEBTOR 



says things like that. I don't wonder he is hurt. It 
is cruel." Tears flashed into Charlotte's eyes. She 
looked accusingly at her aunt, who laughed. 

"I think as much of your father as you do," said she, 
"and I know him better. Don't fret, honey." 

"Your aunt is ill, dear," said Mrs. Carroll, who always 
veered to the side of the attacked party, and who, more- 
over, seldom grasped sarcasm, "and besides, sweet- 
heart," she added, "I don't see what she said that could 
have hurt Arthur's feelings." Just then Carroll passed 
the window towards the stable. "There," she cried, 
triumphantly, "he is just going around to order the 
carriage. He had finished his luncheon. He never did 
care much for that kind of pudding. You are making 
too much of it, Charlotte, dear." 

"No, I am not," said Charlotte, firmly. "Papa did 
not like the way Anna spoke; he was hurt. It was 
cruel." She got up and left the table also, and a soft 
sob was heard as she closed the dining-room door be- 
hind her. 

"That dear child is so sensitive and nervous, and she 
thinks so much of Arthur," Mrs. Carroll said. "Give 
me the pudding sauce, Marie." 

Eddy, who had been busily eating his pudding, looked 
up from his empty plate. "Aunt Anna did mean it 
was fortunate she had lost her appetite, because there 
wasn't enough to eat," he declared, in his sweet treble. 
"You ain't very sharp, Amy. She did mean that, and 
that was the reason papa went out. But it was true, 
too. There isn't enough to eat. I haven't had near 
enough pudding, and it is all gone. The dish is scraped. 
There is none left for Marie and Martin, either." 

"I want no pudding," said Marie, unexpectedly, from 
behind Mrs. Carroll's chair. She spoke with a certain 
sullenness, and her eyes were red. She had a large, 
worn place in the sleeve of her white shirt-waist, and 

290 



THE DEBTOR 



she was given to lifting her arm and surveying it with 
an air of covert injury and indignation. 

" The omelet is all gone, too," said Eddy. " Marie and 
Martin haven't got anything to eat." 

" Oh, hush, dear!" said Mrs. Carroll. " Marie can 
cook another omelet.' ' The Hungarian girl opened her 
mouth as if to speak, then she shut it again. An in- 
describable expression was on her pretty, peasant face, 
the face of a down-trodden race, who yet retained in 
spirit a spark of rebellion and resentment. Marie, in 
her ragged blouse, with her countenance of inscrutable 
silence, standing behind her mistress's chair, surveying 
the denuded table, was the embodiment of a folk-lore 
song. She had been in America only a year and a half, 
and the Lord only knew what she had expected in that 
land of promise, and what bright visions had been dis- 
pelled, and how roughly she had been forced back upon 
her old point of view of the world. The girl was 
actually hungry. She had no money; her clothes were 
worn. Her naive coquetry of expression had quite 
faded from her face. Her cheek-bones showed high, 
her mouth was wide and set, her eyes fixed with a sort 
of stolid and despairing acquiescence. The salient 
points of the Slav were to the surface, the little wings 
of her hope and youth folded away. She had fallen in 
love, moreover, and been prevented from attending a 
wedding-feast where she would have met him that day, 
on account of a lack of money for a new waist, and car 
fare. She knew another girl who was gay in a new 
gown, and at whom the desired one had often looked 
with wavering eyes. Her heart was broken as she 
stood there. She was one of the weariest of the wheels 
within wheels of Arthur Carroll's miserable system of 
life. 

"I don't believe there are any more eggs to make 
an omelet," said Eddy. 

291 



THE DEBTOR 



"The grocer still trusts us," said Mrs. Carroll; "be- 
sides, he has been paid. Eddy, dear, you must not 
speak so to your aunt. Run out, if you have finished 
your luncheon, and ask your father when he is going to 
drive." 

Carroll had not gone, as usual, to the City that day. 

Mrs. Carroll and Anna rose from the table and went 
into the den on the left of the hall. 

"You must not mind the children speaking so, Anna, 
dear," Mrs. Carroll said. "They would fly at me just 
the same if they thought I had said anything to hurt 
Arthur." 

" I don't mind, Amy," Anna replied, dully. She threw 
herself upon the divan with its Oriental rug, lying flat 
on her back, with her hands under her head and her 
eyes fixed upon a golden maple bough w T hich waved 
past the window opposite. She looked very ill. She 
was quite pale, and her eyes had a strange, earnest 
depth in dark hollows. 

Mrs. Carroll looked a little more serious than was her 
wont as she sat in the willow rocker and swayed slowly 
back and forth. "I suppose," she said, after a pause, 
"that it will end in our moving away from Banbridge." 

"I suppose so," Anna replied, listlessly. 

"You don't mind going, do you, Anna, dear?" 

"I mind nothing," Anna Carroll said. "I am past 
minding." 

Mrs. Carroll looked at her with a bewildered sym- 
pathy. " Why, Anna, dear, what is the matter ?" she said. 

"Nothing, Amy." 

"You are feeling ill, aren't you?" 

"Perhaps so, a little. It is nothing worth talking 
about." 

"Are you troubled about anything, honey?" 
Anna did not reply. 

" I can't imagine what you have to trouble you, Anna. 
292 



THE DEBTOR 



Everything is as it has been for a long time. When we 
move away from Banbridge there will be more for a 
while. I can't see anything to worry about." 

"For God's sake, keep your eyes shut, then, Amy, 
as long as you can," cried Anna, suddenly, with a tone 
which the other woman had never heard before. She 
gazed at her sister-in-law a minute, and her expression 
of childish sweetness and contentment changed. Tears 
came in her eyes, her mouth quivered. 

"I don't know what you mean, Anna," she said, 
pitifully, like a puzzled child. 

Anna sprang up from the divan and went over to her 
and kissed her and laughed. "I mean nothing, dear," 
she said. " There is no more to worry about now than 
there has been all along. People get on somehow. 
We are in the world, and we have our right here, and if 
we knock over a few people to keep our footholds, I 
dQn't know that we are to blame. It is nothing, Amy. 
I have felt wretched for a few days, and it has affected 
my spirits. Don't mind anything I have said. We 
shall leave Banbridge before long, and, as you say, we 
shall get on better." 

Mrs. Carroll gave two or three little whimpers on her 
sister-in-law's shoulder, then she smiled up at her. "I 
guess it is because you don't feel well that you are look- 
ing on the dark side of things so," said she. "You will 
feel better to go out and have a drive." 

"Perhaps I shall," replied Anna. 

" We shall go for a long drive. There will be plenty of 
time, it is so early. How lovely it would be if we had 
our automobile, wouldn't it, Anna? Then we could go 
any distance. Wouldn't it be lovely?" 

"Very," replied Anna. 

Then Eddy burst into the room. "Say, Amy," he 
cried, "there's a great circus out in the stable. Papa 
and Martin are having a scrap." 

293 



THE DEBTOR 



"Eddy, dear," cried Mrs. Carroll, "you must not say 
scrap." 

"A shindy, then. What difference does it make? 
Martin he won't harness, because he hasn't been paid. 
He just sits on a chair in the door and whittles a stick, 
and don't say anything, and he won't harness." 

4 'We have simply got to have an automobile," said 
Mrs. Carroll. 

"How do you know it is because he hasn't been paid, 
Eddy?" asked Anna. 

"Because he said so; before he wouldn't say any- 
thing, and began whittling. Papa stands there talking 
to him, but it don't make any difference." 

"With an automobile it wouldn't make any differ- 
ence," said Mrs. Carroll. "An automobile doesn't have 
to be harnessed. I don't see why Arthur doesn't get 
one." 

Anna Carroll sat down on the nearest chair and laugh- 
ed hysterically. 

Mrs. Carroll stared at her. "What are you laughing 
at, Anna?" said she, with a little tone of injury. "I 
don't see anything very funny. It is a lovely day, and 
I wanted to go to drive, and it would do you good. I 
don't see why people act so because they are not paid. 
I didn't think it of Martin." 

" I'll go out and see if he has stirred yet," cried Eddy, 
and was off, with a countenance expressive of the keen- 
est enjoyment of the situation. 

Out in the stable, beside the great door through which 
was a view of the early autumn landscape — a cluster 
of golden trailing elms, with one rosy maple on a green 
lawn intersected by the broad sweep of drive — sat the 
man in a chair, and whittled with a face as impertur- 
bable as fate. Carroll stood beside him, talking in a low 
tone. He was quite pale. Suddenly, just as the boy 
arrived, the man spoke. 

294 



THE DEBTOR 



" Why in thunder, sir," said he, with a certain respect 
in spite of the insolence of the words — " why in thunder 
don't you haul in, shut up shop, sell out, pay your debts, 
and go it small ?" 

"Perhaps I will," Carroll replied, in a tone of rage. 
His face flushed, he raised his right arm as if with an 
impulse to strike the other man, then he let it drop. 

"Sell the horses, papa?" cried Eddy, at his elbow, 
with a tone of dismay. 

Carroll turned and saw the boy. " Go into the house ; 
this is nothing that concerns you," he said, sternly. 

"Are the horses paid for, papa?" asked Eddy. 

" I believe they ain't," said the man in the chair, with 
a curious ruminating impudence. Carroll towered over 
him with an expression of ignoble majesty. But Eddy 
had made a dart into a stall, and the tramp of iron 
hoofs was suddenly heard. 

"I can harness as well as he can," a small voice 
cried. 

Then Martin rose. "I'll harness," he said, sullenly. 
"You'll get hurt"— to the boy. "She don't like chil- 
dren round her." He took hold of the boy's small 
shoulders and pushed him away from the restive horse, 
and grasped the bridle. Carroll strode out of the stable. 

"Say," said Eddy, to the man. 

"Well, what? I've got to have my pay. I've work- 
ed here long enough for nothin'." 

"When I'm a man I'll pay you," said Eddy, with 
dignity and severity. "You must not speak to papa 
that way again, Martin." 

Martin looked from the tall horse to the small boy, 
and began to laugh. 

" I'll pay you with interest," repeated the boy, and the 
man laughed again. 

"Much obleeged," said he. 

"I don't see, now, why you need to worry just be- 
295 



THE DEBTOR 



cause papa hasn't paid you," said Eddy, and walked 
out of the stable with a gait exactly like his father. 

The man threw the harness over the horse and 
whistled. 

" He's harnessing," Eddy proclaimed when he went in. 

His mother was pinning on her veil before the mirror 
over the hall settle. Anna was just coming down-stairs 
in a long, red coat, with a black feather curling against 
her black hair under her hat. 

" Where is Charlotte?" asked Mrs. Carroll. 

"She has gone off to walk," said Eddy. 

"Well," said Mrs. Carroll, "you must go after her 
and walk with her, Eddy." 

"I don't want to, Amy," said Eddy. "I want to 
go to drive." 

Then Carroll came down-stairs and repeated his wife's 
orders. "Yes, Eddy, you must go to walk with your 
sister. I don't wish her to go alone," said he peremp- 
torily. He still looked pale; he had grown thin during 
the last month. 

"I don't see why Charlotte don't get married, too, 
and have her husband to go with her," said Eddy, as 
he went out of the door. "Tagging round after a girl 
all the time! It ain't fair." 

"Eddy!" called Carroll, in a stern voice; but the boy 
had suddenly accelerated his pace with his last words, 
and was a flying streak at the end of the drive. 

"Where 'm I goin' to find her?" he complained to 
himself. He hung about a little until he saw the car- 
riage emerge from the grounds and turn in the other 
direction, then he went straight down to the main 
street. Just as he turned the corner he met a small 
woman, carefully dressed and frizzed, who stopped him. 

"Is your mother at home, little boy?" she asked, in 
a nervous voice. There were red spots on her thin 
cheeks; she was manifestly trembling. 

296 



THE DEBTOR 



The boy eyed her with a supercilious scorn and pity. 
He characterized her in his own mind of extreme youth 
and brutal truth as an ugly old woman, and yet he 
noted the trembling and felt like reassuring her. He 
took off his little cap. "No, ma'am," said he. "Amy 
has gone to drive." 

"I wanted to see your mother," said the woman, 
wonderingly. 

"Amy is my mother," replied the boy. 

"Oh!" said the woman. 

'They have all gone," said Eddy. 

"Then I shall have to call another time," said the 
woman, with a mixture of ingratiation and despair. 

The boy eyed her sharply. "Say," he said, "are 
you the dressmaker that made my sister Ina's clothes 
for her to be married?" 

"Yes, I be," replied Madame Griggs. 

"Then," said Eddy, "I can tell you one thing, "there 
isn't any use for you to go to my house now to get any 
money. I suppose you haven't been paid." 

"No, I haven't," said Madame Griggs. Then she 
loosened the flood-gates of her grievance upon the boy. 
"No, I haven't been paid," said she, "and I've worked 
like a dog, and I'm owing for the things I bought in 
New York, and I'm owing my girls, and if I don't get 
paid before long, I'm ruined, and that's all there is to 
it. I 'ain't been paid, and it's a month since your sister 
was married, and they'll send out to collect the bills 
from the stores, if I don't pay them. It's a cruel thing, 
and I don't care if I do say it." The woman was 
flouncing along the street beside the boy, and she spoke 
in a loud, shrill voice. "It's a cruel thing," she re- 
peated. "If I couldn't pay for my wedding fix I'd 
never get married, before I'd go and cheat a poor dress- 
maker. She'd ought to be ashamed of herself, and so 
had all your folks. I don't care if I do say it. They 

297 



THE DEBTOR 



are nuthin' but a pack of swindlers, that's what they 
be." 

Suddenly the boy danced in front of the furious lit- 
tle woman, and stood there, barring her progress. 
"They ain't!" said he. 

"They be." 

"They ain't! You can't pay folks if you 'ain't got 
any money." 

"You needn't have the things, then," sniffed Madame 
Griggs. 

"My sister had to have the things to get married, 
didn't she? A girl can't get married without the 
clothes." 

"Let her pay for 'em, then." 

"I'll tell you what to do!" cried Eddy, looking at her 
with a sudden inspiration. "You are in debt, ain't 
you?" 

"Yes, I be," replied Madame Griggs, hopping ner- 
vously along by the boy's side, poor little dressmaker, 
aping French gentility, holding her skirts high, with a 
disclosure of a papery silk petticoat and a meagre ankle. 
Even in her distress she felt of her frizzes to see if they 
were in order after a breeze had struck her in the sharp, 
eager face. "Yes, I be." 

"Well," said the boy, delightedly, "I can tell you just 
what to do, you know." 

"What, I'd like to know?" Madame Griggs said, in a 
snapping tone. 

"Move away from Banbridge," said the boy. 

"What for, I'd like to know?" 

"Why, then, don't you see," explained Eddy Carroll, 
"you would get away from the folks that you owe, and 
other folks that you didn't owe would trust you for 
things. You'd get along fine. That's the way we al- 
ways do." 

"Well, I never!" said Madame Griggs. Then she 
298 



THE DEBTOR 



turned on him with sudden fury. " So that's what your 
folks are goin' to do, be they?" said she. "Go off and 
leave me without payin' my bill! That's the dodge, is 
it?" 

Eddy was immediately on the alert. He was young 
and innocent, but he had a certain sharpness. He was 
quite well aware that a knowledge on the part of the 
creditors of his family's Sittings was not desirable. "I 
'ain't heard them say a word about moving away from 
Banbridge," declared he. "What you getting so mad 
about, Missis?" 

"I guess I've got some reason to be mad, if that's 
your folks' game. The way I've worked, slavin' all 
them hot days and nights on your sister's wedding fix. 
I guess — " 

"We ain't going to move away from Banbridge as 
long as we live, for all I know," said Eddy, looking at 
the bundle of feminine nerves beside him with a mixt- 
ure of terror and scorn. "You don't need to holler so, 
Missis." 

"I don't care how loud I holler, I can tell you that." 

"We ain't going to move; and if we did, I don't see 
why you couldn't. I was just telling you what you 
could do, if you owed folks and didn't have any money 
to pay 'em, and you turn on a feller that way. I'm 
going to tell my sister and mother, and they won't have 
you make any more dresses for 'em." With that Eddy 
Carroll made a dart into Anderson's grocery store, 
which he had reached by that time. The dressmaker 
remained standing on the sidewalk, staring after him. 
She looked breathless; red spots were on her thin cheeks. 

Eddy went straight through the store to the office. 
The door stood open, and the little place was empty 
except for the cat, which cast a lazy glance at him from 
under a half-closed lid, stretched, displaying his claws, 
and began to purr loudly. Eddy went over to the cat 

299 



TrfE DEBTOR 



and took him up in his arms and carried him out into 
the main store, where William Price stood behind the 
counter. He was alone in the store. 

"Say," said Eddy, "where's Mr. Anderson?" 

"He's gone out," replied the clerk, with a kind look 
at the boy. He had lost one of his own years ago, and 
Eddy, in spite of his innocent superciliousness, appealed 
to him. 

"Where?" asked Eddy. The cat wriggled in his arms 
and jumped down. Then he rolled over ingratiatingly 
at his feet. Eddy stooped down and rubbed the shining, 
furry stomach. 

"He took the net he catches butterflies with," re- 
plied the old clerk, "and I guess he's gone to walk in 
the fields somewhere." 

"I should think it was pretty late for butterflies," 
said Eddy. He straightened himself and looked very 
hard at the glass jar of molasses-balls on the shelf be- 
hind the clerk. 

"There might be a stray one," said William Price. 
"It's a warm day." 

"Shucks!" said Eddy. "Say, how much are those a 
pound ?" 

The clerk glanced around at the jar of molasses-balls. 
"Twenty-five cents," replied he. 

"Guess I'll take a pound," said Eddy. "I 'ain't got 
any money with me, but I'll pay you the next time I 
come in." 

The old clerk's common face turned suddenly grave, 
and acquired thereby a certain distinction. He turned 
about, took off the cover of the glass jar, and gath- 
ered up a handful of the molasses-balls and put them in 
a little paper bag. Then he came forth from behind 
the counter and approached the boy. He thrust the 
paper bag into a little grasping hand, then he took hold 
of the small shoulders and looked down at him steadily. 

300 



THE DEBTOR 



The blue eyes in the ordinary face of an ordinary man, 
unfitted for any- work in life except that of an underling, 
were full of affection and reproof. Eddy looked into 
them, then he hitched uneasily. 

' 1 What you doing so for?" said he; then he looked 
into the eyes again and was still. 

"It's jest this," said William Price. "Here's a little 
bag of them molasses -balls, I'll give 'em to ye; but 
don't you never, as long as you live, buy anything you 
'ain't either got the money to pay for in your fist, ready, 
or know jest where it's comin' from. It's stealin', and 
it's the wust kind of stealin', 'cause it ain't out an' out. 
I had a boy once about your size." 

"Where's he now?" asked Eddy, in a half -resentful, 
half -wondering fashion. 

"He's dead; died years ago of scarlet-fever, and I'd 
a good deal rather have it so, much as I thought of him — 
as much as your father thinks of you — than to have 
him grow up and steal and cheat folks." 

"Didn't he ever take anything that didn't belong to 
him?" asked Eddy. 

"Never. I guess he didn't. John wasn't that kind 
of a boy. I'd have trusted him with anythin'." 

"Then he must have gone to heaven, I suppose," 
said Eddy. He looked soberly into the old clerk's eyes. 
"Thank you for the molasses - balls," he said. "I 
meant to pay for 'em, but I don't know just when I'd 
have the money, so I guess it's better for you to give 
them to me. Mr. Anderson won't mind, will he?" 

" No, he won't, for I shall put five cents into the cash- 
drawer for them," replied the old clerk, with dignity. 

"I wouldn't want to have you take anything that 
Mr. Anderson wouldn't like," said Eddy. 

"I shouldn't," replied the old clerk, going back to his 
place behind the counter, as a woman entered the store. 

Eddy looked back as he went out, with a very sweet 
3ot 



THE DEBTOR 



expression. "The first five-cent piece I get I'll pay 
you," he said. He had popped a molasses-ball into 
his mouth, and his utterance was somewhat impeded. 
"I thank you very much, indeed/ ' he said, "and I'm 
sorry your boy died." 

"Have you just lost a boy?" asked the woman at the 
counter. 

"Twenty years ago," replied the clerk. 

"Land!" said the woman. She looked at him, then 
she turned and looked after Eddy, who was visible on 
the sidewalk talking with Madame Griggs, and her face 
showed her mind. Madame Griggs had waited on the 
sidewalk until Eddy came out of the store. Now she 
seized him by the arm, which he promptly jerked away 
from her. 

" When will your folks be home ? That's what I want 
to know!" said she, sharply. 

"They'll be home to-night, I guess," replied Eddy. 
"Then I'll be up after supper," said Madame Griggs. 
"All right," said Eddy. 

"You tell 'em I'm comin'. I've got to see your ma 
and your pa." 

"Yes, ma'am," replied Eddy. He raised his little 
cap as the dressmaker flirted away, then he started on 
a run down the street, sucking a molasses-ball, which is 
a staying sweet, and soon he left the travelled road and 
was hastening far afield. 



CHAPTER XXV 



It was September, but a very warm day. Charlotte 
had walked along the highway for some distance ; then 
when she came to a considerable grove of oak-trees, she 
hesitated a moment, and finally left the road, entered 
the grove, and sat down on a rock at only a little dis- 
tance from the road, yet out of sight of it. She was 
quite effectually screened by the trees and some under- 
growth. Here and there the oaks showed shades of 
russet-and-gold and deep crimson; the leaves had not 
fallen. In the sunlit spaces between the trees grew 
clumps of blue asters. She saw a squirrel sitting quite 
motionless on a bough over her head, with bright eyes 
of inquisitive fear upon her. She felt a sense of delight, 
and withal a slight tinge of loneliness and risk. There 
was no doubt that it was not altogether wise, perhaps 
not safe, for a girl to leave the highway, or even to walk 
upon it if it were not thickly bordered by dwellings, in 
this state. Charlotte was fearless, yet her imagination 
was a lively one. She looked about her with keen en- 
joyment, yet there was a sharp wariness in her glance 
akin to that of the squirrel. When she heard on the 
road the rattle of wheels, and caught the flash of revolv- 
ing spokes in the sun, she had a sensation of relief. 
There was not a house in sight, except far to the left, 
where she could just discern the slant of a barn roof 
through the trees. Everything was very still. While 
there was no wind, it was cool in the shade, though hot 
in the sunlight. She pulled her jacket over her shoul- 

303 



THE DEBTOR 



ders. She leaned against a tree and remained perfectly 
quiet. She had on a muslin gown of an indeterminate 
green color, and it shaded perfectly into the coloring of 
the tree -trunk, which was slightly mossy. Her dark 
head, too, was almost indistinguishable against the tree, 
which at that height was nearly black. In fact, she 
became almost invisible from that most curious system 
of concealment in the world, that of assimilation with 
nature. She was gathered so closely into the arms 
of the great mother that she seemed one with her. And 
she was not alone in the shelter of those mighty arms; 
there was the squirrel, as indistinguishable as she. And 
there was another. 

Charlotte with her bright, wary eyes, and the little 
animal with his, in the tree, became aware of another 
sentient thing besides themselves. Possibly the squir- 
rel had been aware of it all the time. 

Suddenly the girl looked downward at her right and 
saw within a stone's - throw a man asleep. He was 
dressed in an ancient, greenish-brown suit, and was prac- 
tically invisible. His arm was thrown over his weather- 
beaten face and he was sleeping soundly, lying in a 
position as grotesquely distorted as some old tree-root. 
He was, in fact, distorted by the storms of life within 
and without. He was evidently a tramp, and possibly 
worse. His sleeping face could be read like a page of 
evil lore. 

When Charlotte perceived him she turned pale and 
her heart seemed to stop. Her first impulse was to 
rise and make a mad rush for the road. Then she be- 
came afraid to do that. The road was lonely. She 
heard no sound of wheels thereon. It was true that she 
had entered the grove and seated herself without awak- 
ening the man ; he might quite possibly be in a drunk- 
en sleep, difficult to disturb, but she might not be so 
fortunate a second time. Her slightest motion might 

304 



THE DEBTOR 

awaken him now. So she sat perfectly still; she did 
not move a finger; it seemed to her she did not breathe, 
When a slight breeze rustled the tree-boughs over her 
head, and ruffled the skirt of her dress, her terror made 
her sick. When the breeze struck him, the sleeping tramp 
made an uneasy motion, and she felt overwhelmed. 
Soon, however, he began to breathe heavily. Before 
his breathing had been inaudible. He was evidently 
quite soundly asleep, yet if a breeze could disturb him, 
what might not her rise and flight do ? It seemed to her 
that she must remain there forever. But the time would 
come when that sleeping terror would awake, whether 
she disturbed him or not, when that distorted caricature 
of man, as grotesque as a gargoyle on the temple of life, 
would stretch those twisted legs and arms, and open 
his eyes and see her; and then? She became sure, the 
longer she looked, that this was not one of the harmless 
wanderers over the earth, one of the Ishmaels, whose 
hand is turned only against himself. The great dark, 
bloated face had a meaning that could not be mistaken 
even by eyes for whom its meaning was written in a 
strange language. Innocence read guilt by a strange 
insight of heredity which came to her from the old be- 
ginning of things. She dared not stir. She felt petri- 
fied. She realized that her one hope was in the passing 
of some one on the road. She made up her mind that 
if she heard wheels she would risk everything. She 
would spring up and run for her life and scream. Then 
she wondered how loudly she could scream. Charlotte 
was not one of the screaming kind of girls who lifts up 
her voice of panic at everything. She tried to remem- 
ber if she had ever screamed, and how loudly. She kept 
her ears strained for the sound of wheels, her eyes on the 
sleeping tramp. She dared not look away from him. 
Even the squirrel remained motionless, with his round 
eyes of wariness fixed. It was as if he too were afraid 

305 



THE DEBTOR 



to stir. He retained his attitude of alert grace, sitting 
erect on his little haunches, an acorn in his paws, his 
bushy tail arching over his back like a plume. 

Then slowly the man opened his eyes with a dazed 
expression, at first a blur of consciousness. Then grad- 
ually the recognition of himself, of his surroundings, of 
his life, came into them, and that self-knowledge was 
unmistakable. There was no doubt about the man 
with his twisted limbs and his twisted soul. He lay 
quite still a while longer, staring. Charlotte, with her 
eyes upon him, and the squirrel with his eyes upon him, 
never stirred. Charlotte heard her heart beat, and 
wished for some way to stifle it, but that she could not 
do. It seemed to her that the beating of her heart was 
like a drum, as if it could be heard through all the grove. 
She realized that she could not hear the sound of pass- 
ing wheels on the road, because of this terrible beating 
of her heart. It seemed inevitable that the man would 
hear it. She felt then that she should take her one lit- 
tle chance, that she should scream on the possibility of 
some one passing on the road, and run, but she realized 
the futility of it. Before she could move a step the 
man would be upon her. She felt, moreover, paralyzed. 
She remained as perfectly motionless as the tree against 
which she leaned, with her eyes full of utmost terror and 
horror upon the waking man. He still looked straight 
ahead, and his eyes were still retrospective, fixed in- 
ward rather than outward. He still saw only himself 
and his own concerns. 

Then he yawned audibly and spoke. "Damn it all!" 
he said, in a curious voice, of rather passive rage. It 
was the voice of one at variance with all creation, his 
hand against every man and every man against him, 
and yet the zest of rebellion was not in it. In fact, the 
man had been so long at odds with life that a certain 
indifference was upon him. He had become sullen. 

306 



THE DEBTOR 



As he lay there he thrust a hand in his pocket, and 
again he spoke his oath against all outside, against all 
creation. He had thought absently that he might find 
a dime for a drink. Now that he had waked, he was 
thirsty, but there was none. Then he yawned, stretched 
out his stiff, twisted limbs with a sort of muffled groan, 
rested his weight upon one elbow, and shambled up as 
awkwardly as a camel. The girl sat still in the clutch 
of her awful fear. She no longer heard her heart beat. 
She was casting about in her mind for a weapon. A great 
impulse of fight was stirring in her. She felt suddenly 
that her little fingers were like steel. She felt that she 
should kill that man if he touched her. The fear never 
let go its clutch on her heart, but a fierceness as of any 
wild thing at bay was over her. She realized that in 
another minute, when he should see her, she would 
gather herself up, and spring, spring as she had read of 
a tarantula springing ; that she would be first before the 
man, that she would kill him. Something which was 
almost insanity was firing her brain. 

The man, when he had stood up, it seemed to Char- 
lotte, looked directly at her. She was always sure that 
he did. But if he did, it was with unseeing eyes. His 
brain did not compass the image of her sitting there, 
leaning against the tree, a creature of incarnate terror 
and insane fury. He seemed to keep his eyes fixed 
upon her for a full second. Charlotte's nerves and 
muscles were tense with the restrained impulse to spring. 
Then he slowly shuffled away. As he passed, the squir- 
rel slid like swiftness itself down the tree, and across 
an open space to another. The girl sank limply upon 
herself in a dead faint, and the tramp gained the road 
and trudged sullenly on towards Ludbury. 

When Charlotte came to herself she was still sitting 
there limply. She could not realize all at once what 
had happened. Then she remembered. She looked at 

307 



THE DEBTOR 



the place where the tramp had lain, and so forcibly did 
her terrified fancy project images that it was difficult 
to convince herself that he was really gone. She seemed 
to still see that gross thing lying there. Then she re- 
membered distinctly that he had gone. 

She got up, but she could scarcely stand. She had 
never fainted before, and she wondered at her own 
sensations. " What ails me ?" she thought. She strain- 
ed her eyes around, but there was no sign of the terrible 
man. She was quite sure that he had gone, and yet 
how could she be sure? He might have gone out to 
the road and be sitting beside it. A vivid recollection 
of tramps sitting beside that very road, as she had been 
driving past, came over her. She became quite posi- 
tive that he was out on the road, and a terror of the 
road was over her. She looked behind her, and the 
sunny gleam of an open field came through the trees. 
The field was shaggy with blue asters and golden-rod 
gone to seed, and white tufts of immortelles. Charlotte 
stared through the trees at the field, and suddenly a 
man crossed the little sunny opening. A great joy swept 
over her; he was Randolph Anderson. Now she was 
sure that she was safe. She stumbled again to her feet, 
and ran weakly out of the oak grove. There was a 
low fence between the grove and the field, and when 
she reached that she stopped. She felt this to be insur- 
mountable for her trembling limbs. "Oh, dear!" she 
said, aloud, and although the man was holding his 
butterfly - net cautiously over the top of a clump of 
asters so far away that it did not seem possible that he 
could hear her, he immediately looked up. Then he 
hastened towards her. As he drew near a look of 
concern deepened on his face. He had had an inkling 
at the first glimpse of her that something was wrong. 
He reached the fence and stood looking at her on the 
other side. 

308 



THE DEBTOR 



"J am afraid I can't get over," Charlotte said, faintly. 
She never knew quite how she was over, lifted in some 
fashion, and Anderson stood close to her, looking at her 
with his face as white as hers. 

"What is it?" he asked. "Are you ill, Miss Carroll? 
What is it?" 

"I have been frightened," said she. Without quite 
knowing what she did, she caught hold of his arm and 
clung to him tightly. 

"What frightened you?" asked Anderson, fairly trem- 
bling himself and looking down at her. 

"There was a man asleep in the grove, in there," ex- 
plained Charlotte, falteringly — she still felt faint and 
strange — "and — and — I sat down there, and did not see 
him, and then he — he woke up and — " 

Anderson seized her arm in a fierce clutch. " What ?" 
he cried. "Where is he? What? For God's sake!" 

"He went away out in the road and did not seem to 
see — me. I sat still," said Charlotte. Then she was 
very faint again, for he, too, frightened her a little. 

Anderson caught her, supporting her, while he tore 
off his coat. Then he half carried her over to a ledge 
of rocks cropping out of the furzy gold-and-blue under- 
growth, and sat down beside her there. Charlotte sat 
weakly where she was placed. She was deadly white 
and trembling. Anderson hesitated a moment, then 
he put an arm around her, removed her hat, and drew 
her head down on his shoulder. 

"Now keep quiet a little while until you are better," 
he said. "You are perfectly safe now. You say the 
man did not see you?" 

Charlotte shook her head against his shoulder. She 
closed her eyes; she was really very near a complete 
swoon, and scarcely knew where she was or what was 
happening; only a vague sense of another will thrust 
under her sinking spirit for a support was over her. 

309 



THE DEBTOR 

As for the man, he looked down at the little, pale face, 
with the dark lashes sweeping the soft cheeks, at the 
mouth still trembling to a sob of terror and grief, and 
a mighty wave of emotion was over him. He realized 
that he held in his arms not only the girl whom he loved, 
towards whom his whole being went out in protection 
and tenderness, but himself, his whole future, even in 
some subtle sense his past. He was like one on some 
height of the spirit, from which he overlooked all that 
was, all that had gone before, and all that would come. 
He was on the Delectable Mountain. Within himself 
he comprehended the widest vision of earth, that which 
is given through love. The man's face, looking at the 
woman's on his shoulder, became transfigured. It was 
full of uttermost tenderness, of protection as perfect as 
that of a father for his child. His heart, as he looked 
at her, was at once that of a lover and a father. He 
unconsciously held her closer, and bent his face down 
over hers softly, as if she had been indeed a child. 

4 'Poor little soul!" he whispered, and his lips almost 
touched her cheek. 

Then a wave of color came over the girl's face. "I 
am better," she said, and raised herself abruptly. An- 
derson drew back and removed his arm. He feared 
she was offended, and perhaps afraid of him. But she 
looked piteously up in his face, and, to his dismay, be- 
gan to cry. Her nerves were completely unstrung. 
She was not a strong girl, and she had, in fact, been 
through a period of mental torture which might have 
befitted the Inquisition. She could still see the man's 
evil face; her brain seemed stamped with the sight; 
terror had mastered her. She was for the time being 
scarcely sane. The terrible imagination of ill which 
had possessed her, as she sat there gazing at the sleep- 
ing terror, still held her in sway. She was not naturally 
hysterical, but now hysterics threatened her. 

310 



THE DEBTOR 



Anderson put his arm around her again and drew her 
head to his shoulder. "You must not mind, ,, he said, 
in a grave, authoritative voice. "You are ill and 
frightened. You must not mind. Keep your head on 
my shoulder until you feel better. You are quite safe 
now." Anderson's voice was rather admonishing than 
caressing. Charlotte sobbed wildly against his shoul- 
der, and clung to him with her little, nervous hands. 
Anderson sat looking down at her gravely. "Is your 
mother at home?" he asked, presently. 

"No," sobbed Charlotte; "they have all gone to 
drive." 

"Nobody in the house?" 

"Only Marie." 

Anderson reflected. He was much nearer his own 
home than hers, and there was a short-cut across the 
field ; they would not need to strike the road at all. He 
rose, with a sudden resolution, and .raised the weeping 
girl to her feet. 

"Come," said he, in the same authoritative voice, and 
Charlotte stumbled blindly along, his arm still around 
her. She had an under - consciousness that she was 
ashamed of herself for showing so little bravery, that 
she wondered what this man would think of her, but 
her self-control was gone, because of the too tense strain 
which had been put upon it. It was like a spring too 
tightly compressed, suddenly released; the vibrations of 
her nerves seemed endless. She tried to hush her sobs 
as she was hurried along, and succeeded in some meas- 
ure, but she was still utterly incapable of her usual 
mental balance. Once she started, and clutched An- 
derson's arm with a gasp of fear. 

"Look, look!" she whispered. 

"What is it?" he asked, soothingly. 

"The man is there. See him?" 

"There is nothing there, child," he said, and hurried 

ft! 311 



THE DEBTOR 



her over the place where her distorted vision had seen 
again the object of her terror, in his twisted sleep in the 
grass. 

Anderson began to be seriously alarmed about the 
girl. He did not know what consequences might come 
from such a severe mental strain upon such a nervous 
temperament. He hurried as fast as he dared, almost 
carrying her at times, and finally they emerged upon 
the garden at the right of his own house. The flowers 
were thinning out fast, but the place was still gay with 
marigolds and other late blossoms. As he passed the 
kitchen door he was aware of the maid's gaping face of 
stupid surprise, and he called out curtly to her: "Is my 
mother in the house ?" 

"Yes, sir. She's in the sitting-room," replied the 
maid, with round eyes of curiosity upon the pair. 
Charlotte was making a desperate effort to walk by 
herself, to recover^ herself, but Anderson was still al- 
most carrying her bodily. She wondered dimly at the 
strange trembling of her limbs, at the way the bright 
orange and red of the marigolds and nasturtiums swam 
before her eyes, and once again she saw quite distinctly 
the evil face of the man peer out at her from among 
them; but this time she said nothing, for her subcon- 
sciousness of delusion was growing stronger. 

Anderson went around to the front of the house, and 
his mother's wondering face gazed from a window, then 
quickly disappeared. When he reached the door she 
was there, filling it up with her large figure in its volu- 
minous white draperies. 

"What — " she began, but Randolph interrupted her. 

"Mother, this is Miss Carroll," he said. "She is not 
hurt, but she has had a terrible fright and shock. Her 
people are all away from home, and I brought her here ; 
it was nearer. I want her to have some wine, and rest, 
and get over it before she goes home." 

312 



SHE WAS SIPPING A GLASS OF PORT-WINE, WITH MRS. ANDERSON 
SUPPORTING HER HEAD " 



THE DEBTOR 



Mrs. Anderson hesitated one second. It was a pause 
for the gathering together of wits suddenly summoned 
for new and surprising emergencies ; then she rose to the 
occasion. She had her faults and her weaknesses, but 
she was one of the women in whom the maternal in- 
stinct is a power, and this girl appealed to it. She 
stretched forth her white-clad arms, and she drew her 
away almost forcibly from her son. 

"You poor child!" said she, in a voice which harked 
back to her son's babyhood. "Come right in. You go 
and get a glass of that port -wine," said she to Randolph, 
and she gave him a little push. She enveloped and per- 
vaded the girl in a voluminous embrace. 

Charlotte felt the soft panting of a mother's bosom 
under her head as she was led into the house. "You 
poor, blessed child," a soft voice cooed in her ear, a 
soft voice and yet a voice of strength. Charlotte's own 
mother had never been in the fullest sense a mother to 
her; a large part of the spiritual element of maternity 
had been lacking; but here was a woman who could 
mother a race, if once her heart of maternal love was 
awakened. 

Charlotte was not led; that did not seem to be the 
action. She felt as if she were borne along by sustain- 
ing wings spread under her weakness into a large, cool 
bedroom opening out of the sitting-room. Then her 
dress was taken off, in what wise she scarcely knew; 
she was enrobed in one of Mrs. Anderson's large, white 
wrappers, and was laid tenderly in a white bed, where 
presently she was sipping a glass of port -wine, with Mrs. 
Anderson sitting behind her and supporting her head. 

"No, you can't come in, Randolph," she heard her 
say to her son, and her voice sounded almost angry. 
After Charlotte had swallowed the wine, she lay back 
on the pillow, and she heard Mrs Anderson talking soft- 
ly to her in a sort of delicious dream, caused partly by 

3*3 



THE DEBTOR 



the wine, which had mounted at once to her head, and 
partly by the sense of powerful protection and perfect 
peace and safety. 

"Poor lamb!" Mrs. Anderson said, and her voice 
sounded like the song of a mother bird. "Poor lamb; 
poor, blessed child! It was a shame she was so fright- 
ened, but she is safe now. Now go to sleep if you can, 
dear child; it will do you good." 

Charlotte smiled helplessly and gratefully, and after 
a happy stare around the room, with its scroll-work of 
green on the walls, reflecting green gloom from closed 
blinds, and another look of childish wonder into the 
loving eyes bent over her, she closed her own. Present- 
ly Mrs. Anderson tiptoed out into the sitting - room, 
where Randolph was waiting, standing bolt-upright in 
the middle of the room staring at the bedroom door. 
She beckoned him across the hall into the opposite room, 
the parlor. The parlor had a musty smell which was 
not unpleasant; in fact, slightly aromatic. There were 
wooden shutters which were tightly closed, all except 
one, through an opening in which a sunbeam came and 
transversed the room in a shaft of glittering motes. 

"What scared her so?" demanded Mrs. Anderson. 
She had upon her a new authority. Anderson felt as 
if he had reverted to his childhood. He explained. 
"Well," said his mother, "the poor child has had an 
awful shock, and she is lucky if she isn't down sick 
with a fever. I don't like to see anybody look the 
way she did. But I'm thankful the man didn't see 
her." 

"He might have been harmless enough," said Ander- 
son. 

Mrs. Anderson sniffed. "I don't see many harmless- 
looking ones round here," said she. "An awful-looking 
tramp came to the door this morning. I shouldn't won- 
der if it was the same one. I guess she will be all right 

3M 



THE DEBTOR 



now. She looked quieted down, but she had an awful 
shock, poor child." 

''I wonder when I ought to take her home," said 
Anderson. 

"Not for two hours," said his mother, decidedly. 
"She is going to stay here till she gets rested and is a 
little over it." 

"Perhaps she had better," said Anderson; "her folks 
may have gone on a long drive, too." 

"Did you know her before?" asked his mother, sud- 
denly, and a sharp expression came into her soft, blue 
eyes. 

"I have seen her in the store," replied Anderson, and 
he was conscious of coloring. 

"She knew you, then?" said his mother. 

"Yes. She was in the store this morning." 

"It was lucky you were there." 

"Oh, as for that, she was in no danger," said Ander- 
son, coolly. "The tramp had gone." 

"If you hadn't been there, I believe that poor little 
thing would have fainted dead away and lain there, 
nobody knows how long. It doesn't do anybody any 
good to get such a fright, and she is a thin, delicate lit- 
tle thing." 

"Yes, she had quite a fright," said Anderson, walk- 
ing over to the window with the defective shutter. 
"This shutter must be fixed," said he. 

"I think she is prettier than the one that got mar- 
ried, but it is a pity she belongs to such a family," said 
Mrs. Anderson. "Mrs. Ferguson was just in here, and 
she says it is awful, that they are owing everybody." 

"That is not the girl's fault," Anderson rejoined, 
with sudden fire. 

"No, I suppose not," said Mrs. Anderson, with an 
anxious look at him. "Only, if she hasn't been taught 
to think it doesn't matter if debts are not paid." 

3i5 



THE DEBTOR 



" Well, I don't think that poor child is to be blamed," 
Anderson said. 

"Do they owe you?" 

"She came in and paid me this morning." 

"Oh, I'm glad of that!" said his mother, and Ander- 
son was conscious of intense guilt at his deception. 
Somehow half a lie had always seemed to him more 
ignoble than a whole one, and he had told a half one. 
He turned to leave the room, when there came a loud 
peal of the door-bell. 

"Oh, dear, that will wake her up!" said his mother. 

Anderson strode past her to the door, and there stood 
Eddy Carroll. He was breathless from running, and 
his pretty face was a uniform rose. 

"Say," he panted, "is my sister in here?" 

"Hush!" said Anderson. "Yes, she is." 

" I chased you all the way," said Eddy, "but I tumbled 
down and hurt my knee on an old stone, and then I 
couldn't catch up." Indeed, the left knee of Eddy's 
little knickerbockers showed a rub and a red stain. 
"Where's Charlotte?" 

"She is lying down. She was frightened, and I 
brought her here, and she has had some wine and is 
lying down." 

"What frightened her, I'd like to know? First 
thing I saw you were lugging her off across the field. 
What frightened her?" 

Anderson explained. 

Eddy sniffed with utmost scorn. "Just like a girl," 
said he, "to get scared of a man that was fast asleep, 
and wouldn't have hurt her, anyway. Just like a girl. 
Say, you'd better keep her awhile." 

"We are going to," said Mrs. Anderson. 

"If she stays to supper, I might stay too, and then 
I could go home with her, and save you the trouble," 
said Eddy to Anderson. 

* 316 



CHAPTER XXVI 

There had been a mutter as of coming storm in Wall 
Street for -several weeks, and this had culminated in a 
small, and probably a sham, tempest, with more stage 
thunder and lightning than any real. However, it was 
on that very account just the sort of cataclysm to over- 
whelm phantom and illusory ships of fortune like Arthur 
Carroll's. That week he acknowledged to himself that his 
career in the City was over, that it was high time for him 
to shut up his office and to shake the dust of the City 
from his feet, for fear of worse to come. Arthur Carroll 
had a certain method in madness, a certain caution in 
the midst of recklessness, and he had also a considerable 
knowledge of law, and had essayed to keep within it. 
However, there were complications and quibbles, and 
nobody knew what might happen, so he retreated in 
as good order as possible, and even essayed to guard as 
well as might be his retreat. He told the pretty ste- 
nographers, with more urbanity than usual, and even 
smiling at the prettier one, as if the fact of her roselike 
face did not altogether escape him, that he was feeling 
the need of a vacation and would close the office for a 
couple of weeks. At the end of that period they 
might report. Carroll owed both of these girls; both 
remembered that fact; both reflected on the possibility 
of their services being no longer required, but such was 
the unconscious masculine charm of the man over their 
foolish and irresponsible feminity that they questioned 
nothing. Their eyes regarded him half-shyly , half-boldly 

3i7 



THE DEBTOR 



under their crests of blond pompadours. The younger 
and prettier blushed sweetly, and laughed consciously, 
as if she saw herself in a mirror; the other's face deepened 
like a word under a strenuous pencil — the lines in it 
grew accentuated. Going down-stairs, the pretty girl 
nudged the other almost painfully in the side. 

"Say," she whispered, "did you see him stare at me. 
Eh?" 

The other girl drew away angrily. "I don't know 
as I did," she replied, in a curt tone. 

"He stared like everything. Say, I don't believe 
he's married." 

"I don't see what difference it makes to you whether 
he's married or not." 

"Sho! Guess I wouldn't be seen goin' with a mar- 
ried man. What do you take me for, Sadie Smith?" 

"Wait till there's any question of goin' before you 
worry. I would." 

"Maybe I sha'n't have to wait long," giggled the 
other. When she reached the sidewalk, she stood 
balancing herself airily, swinging her arms, keeping up 
a continuous flutter of motion like a bird, to keep warm, 
for the wind blew cold down Broadway. She was really 
radiant, vibrant with nerves and young blood, spark- 
ling and dimpling, and bubbling over, as it were, with 
perfect satisfaction with herself and perfect assurance 
of what lay before her. The other stood rather soberly 
beside her. They were both waiting for a car up Broad- 
way. The young man who was in love with the pretty 
one came clattering down the stairs. There had been 
something wrong with the elevator, and it was being re- 
paired. He also had to wait for a car, and he joined 
the girls. He approached the pretty girl and timidly 
pressed his shoulder against hers in its trim, light jacket. 
She drew away from him with a sharp thrust of the 
elbow. 

3i8 



THE DEBTOR 



"Go 'long/' said she, forcibly. She laughed, but she 
was evidently in earnest. 

The young man was not much abashed. He stood 
regarding her, winking fast. 

"Say," he said, with a cautious glance around at the 
staircase, "s'pose the boss is goin' to quit?" 

Both girls turned and stared at him. The elder turned 
quite pale. 

"What do you mean, talking so?" said she, sharply. 

"Nothin', only I thought it was a kind of queer time 
of year for a man to take a vacation, a man as busy as 
the boss seems to be. And — it kind of entered my 
head — " 

"If anything entered your head, do, for goodness' 
sake, hang on to it," said the pretty girl, pertly. Then 
her car whirred over the crossing and ground to a stand- 
still, and she sprang on it with a laugh at her own wit. 
"Good-night," she called back. 

The other two, waiting for another car, were left to- 
gether. "You don't think Mr. Carroll means to give 
up business?" the girl said, in a guarded tone. 

"Lord, no! Why, he has so much business he can 
hardly stagger under it, and he must be making money. 
I was only joking." 

"I suppose he's good pay," the girl said, in a shamed 
tone. 

"Good pay? Of course he is. He don't keep right 
up to the mark — none of these lordly rich men like him 
do — but he's sure as Vanderbilt. I should smile if he 
wasn't." 

"I thought so," said the girl. "I didn't mean to say 
I had any doubt." 

"He's sure, only he's a big swell. That's always the 
way with these big swells. If he hadn't been such a 
swell, now, he'd have paid us all off before he took his 
vacation. But, bless you, money means so little to a 

3i9 



THE DEBTOR 



chap like him that it don't enter into his head it can 
mean any more to anybody else." 

"It must be awful nice to have money enough so 
you can feel that way," remarked the girl, with a cu- 
rious sigh. 

"That's so." The young man craned his neck for- 
ward to look at an approaching car, then he turned again 
to the girl. "Say," he whispered, pressing close to her 
in the hurrying throng, and speaking in her ear, "she's 
dead stuck on him, ain't she?" By two jerks, one of 
his right shoulder, one of his left, with corresponding 
jerks of his head, up the stairs and up Broadway, he 
indicated his employer and the girl who had just left 
on the car. 

"She's a fool," replied the girl, comprehensively. 
"Think she 'ain't got no show?" 
The girl sniffed. 

The young man laughed happily. "Well," he said, 
"I rather think he's married, myself, anyhow." 

"I don't think he's married," returned the girl, 
quickly. 

"I do. There's our car. Come along." 

The girl climbed after the young man on to the 
crowded platform of the car. She glanced back at the 
office window as the car rumbled heavily up Broadway, 
and it was a pathetic glance from a rather pathetic 
young face with a steady outlook upon a life of toil and 
petty needs. 

William Allbright had lingered behind the rest, and 
was in the office talking with Carroll, who was owing 
him a month's salary. Allbright, respectfully and 
apologetically, but with a considerable degree of firm- 
ness, had asked for it. 

" It is not quite convenient for me to pay you to-night, 
Mr. Allbright," Carroll replied, courteously. "I was 
expecting a considerable sum to-day, which would have 

320 



THE DEBTOR 



enabled me to square off a number of other debts be- 
side yours. You know that matter of Gates & Orms- 
bee?" 

"Yes, sir," replied Allbright, rather evasively. He 
had had curious misgivings lately about this very Gates 
& Ormsbee, who figured in considerable transactions on 
his books. 

"Well," continued Carroll, rather impatiently, look- 
ing at his watch, "you know they failed to meet their 
note this morning, and that has shortened me with 
ready money." 

" How long do you expect to keep the office shut, sir ?" 
inquired the clerk, respectfully, but still with a troubled 
air, and with serious eyes with the unswerving intent- 
ness of a child's upon Carroll's face. 

"About two weeks," answered Carroll. " I must have 
that much rest. I am overworked." It was, indeed, 
true that Carroll looked fagged and fairly ill. 

"And then you expect to resume business?" ques- 
tioned Allbright, with a mild persistence. He still 
kept those keen, childlike eyes of his upon the other 
man's face. 

"What else would you understand from what I have 
already said?" said Carroll. He essayed to meet the 
other man's eyes, then he turned and looked out of the 
window, and at that minute the girl who had worked 
at the type-writer in the back office looked up at him 
from the crowded platform of the car with her small, 
intense face, whose intensity seemed to make it stand 
out from the others around her as from a blurred back- 
ground of humanity. "May I ask you to kindly wait 
a moment, Mr. Allbright?" Carroll said, and went out 
hurriedly, leaving Allbright standing staring in amaze- 
ment. There had been something in his employer's 
manner which he did not understand. He stood a 
second, then presently made free to take up a copy of 

321 



THE DEBTOR 



the Wall Street edition of the Sun, and sit down to glance 
over the panic reports. It was not very long, however, 
before he heard Carroll approaching the door, Carroll 
entered quite naturally, and the unusual expression 
which had perplexed the clerk was gone from his face. 
His mind seemed to be principally disturbed by the 
trouble about the elevator. 

4 'It is an outrage," he said, in his fine voice, which 
was courteous even while pronouncing anathema. 
"The management of this block is not what it should 
be." 

Allbright had risen, and was standing beside the desk 
on which lay the Sun. "It hasn't been acting right 
for a week past," he said, referring to the elevator. 

"I know it hasn't, and there might have been an 
accident. It is an outrage. And they are taking twice 
as long to repair it as they should. I doubt if it is in 
working order by to-morrow." As he spoke, Carroll 
was taking out his pocket-book, which he opened, dis- 
closing neatly folded bank-notes. " By-the-way, Mr. 
Allbright," he said, "I find I can settle my arrears with 
you to-night, after all. I happened to think of a party 
from whom I might procure a certain sum which was 
due me, and I did so." 

Allbright's face brightened. "I am very glad, sir," 
he said. "I was afraid of getting behind with the rent, 
and my sister has not been very well lately, and there 
is the doctor's bill." 

"I am very glad also," said Carroll. "I dislike ex- 
ceedingly to allow these things to remain unpaid." As 
he spoke he was counting out the amount of Allbright's 
month's salary. He then closed the pocket-book with 
a deft motion, but not before the clerk had seen that 
it was nearly empty. He also saw something else be- 
fore Carroll brought his light overcoat together over his 
chest. "It is really cold to-night," he said. 

322 



THE DEBTOR 



"I am very much obliged to you, sir, for the money, h 
Allbright said, putting the notes in his old pocket-book. 
Then he replied to Carroll's remark concerning the 
weather, that it was indeed cold, and he thought there 
would be a frost. 

"Yes, I think so," said Carroll. 

Then Allbright put on his own rather shabby, dark 
overcoat and his hat and took his leave. Much to his 
surprise, Carroll extended his hand, something which 
he had never done before. 

" Good-bye, " he said. 

Allbright shook the extended hand, and felt a sudden, 
unexplained emotion. He returned the good-bye, and 
wished Mr. Carroll a pleasant vacation and restoration 
to health. 

"I am tired out and ill," Carroll admitted, in a weary 
voice, and his eyes, as they now met the other man's, 
were haggard. 

"There's two weeks' vacation," Allbright told his 
sister when he reached home that night, "and I don't 
know, but I'm afraid business ain't going just to suit 
Captain Carroll, and that's the reason for it." 

"Has he paid you?" asked his sister, quickly, and 
her placid forehead wrinkled. Her illness had made 
her irritable. 

"Yes," replied her brother. He looked at her medi- 
tatively. He was about to tell her something — that 
he was almost sure that Carroll had gone out and pawned 
his watch to pay him — then he desisted. He reflected 
that his sister was a woman, and would in all probabil- 
ity tell the woman down-stairs and her son about it, 
and that it would be none of their business whether he 
worked for a man who was honest enough, or hard up 
enough, to pawn his watch to pay him his month's 
salary or not. He was conscious of sentiments of 
loyalty both to himself and to Carroll. During the next 

323 



THE DEBTOR 



two weeks he often strolled in the neighborhood of the 
office and stood looking up at the familiar windows. 
One day he saw some men carrying away a desk which 
looked familiar, but he was not sure. He hesitated 
about asking them from what office they had removed 
it until they had driven away and it was too late. He 
went up on the elevator and surveyed the office door, 
but it looked just as usual, with the old sign thereon. 
He tried it softly, but it was locked. 

When he reached the sidewalk he encountered Har- 
rison Day, the young clerk. He did not see him at first, 
but a nervous touch on his arm arrested his attention, 
and then he saw the young man's face with its fast- 
winking eyes. 

"Say," said Harrison Day, "it's all right, ain't it?" 

"What's all right?" demanded Allbright, a trifle 
shortly, drawing away. He had never liked Harrison 
Day. 

"Oh, nothin', only it's ten days since he went, and I 
thought I'd look round to see how things were lookin'. 
You s'pose he's comin' back all right?" 

"I haven't any reason to think anything else." 

"Well, I thought I'd look around, and when I saw 
you I thought I'd ask what you thought. The girls 
are kind of uneasy — that is, Sadie is — May don't seem 
to fret much. Say!" 

"What?" 

"Did he pay you?" 
"Yes, he did." 

"Ain't he owin' you anything?" 
"No, he is not." 

The young man gave a whistle of relief. "Well, I 
s'pose he's all right," he said. "He 'ain't paid the rest 
of us up yet, but I s'pose it's safe enough." 

A faithful, even an affectionate look came into the 
other man's face. He remembered his suspicions 

3 2 4 



THE DEBTOR 



about the watch, and reasoned from premises. "I 
have no more doubt of him than I have of myself,' ' he 
replied. 

"You s'pose the business is goin' on just the same, 
then?" 

"Of course I do," Allbright replied, almost angrily. 
And then a man who had just emerged from the street 
door coming from the elevator accosted him. 

' 1 Can you tell me anything about a man by the name 
of Carroll that's been running a sort of promoting 
business up in No. 233," he asked, and his face looked 
reddened unnaturally. The young man thought he 
had probably been drinking, but Allbright thought he 
looked angry. The young man replied before Allbright 
opened his mouth. 

"He's gone on a vacation," he said. 

"Queer time of year for a vacation," snapped the 
man, who was long and lean and full of nervous vibra- 
tions. 

"He was overworked," said Harrison Day. 

"Guess he overworked cheating me out of two thou- 
sand odd dollars," said the man, and both the others 
turned and stared at him. 

Then Allbright spoke. "That is a statement no 
man has any right to make about my employer unless 
he is in a position to prove it," he said. 

"That is so," said Harrison Day. He was a very 
small man, but he danced before the tall, lean one, who 
looked as if all his flesh might have resolved to muscle. 

The man looked contemptuously down at him and 
spoke to Allbright. "So he is your employer?" he said, 
in a sarcastic tone. 

"Yes, he is." 

"This young man's also, I presume." 
"Yes, he is," declared Day. But the man only heed- 
ed Allbright's response that he was. 

325 



THE DEBTOR 



" Well," said the man, "may I ask a question?" 

"Yes, you may," said Day, pertly, "but it don't fol- 
low that we are goin' to answer it." 

"May I ask," said the man, addressing Allbright, "if 
Captain Carroll has paid you your salaries?" 

"He has paid me every dollar he owed me," replied 
Allbright, with emphasis, and his own face flushed. 

Then the man turned to Day. "Has he paid you?" 
he inquired. 

And Day, with no hesitation, lied. "Yes, sir, he has, 
every darned cent," he declared, "and I don't know 
what business it is of yours whether he has or not." 

"When is he coming back?" asked the man, of All- 
bright, not heeding Day. 

"Next Monday," replied Allbright, with confidence. 

"Where does he live?" asked the man. 

Then for the first time an expression of confusion 
came over the book-keeper's face, but Day arose to the 
occasion. 

"He lives in Orange," replied Day. 
"What street, and number?" 

"One hundred and sixty - three Water Street," re- 
plied Day. His eyes flashed. He was finding an un- 
wholesome exhilaration in this inspirational lying. 

"Well," said the man, "I can tell you one thing, if 
your precious boss ain't in this office Monday morning 
by nine o'clock sharp, he'll see me at one hundred and 
sixty-three Water Street, Orange, New Jersey, and he'll 
hand over my two thousand odd dollars that he's 
swindled me out of, or I'll have the law on him." With 
that the man swung himself aboard a passing car, and 
Allbright and Day were left looking after him. 

"That feller had ought to have been knocked down," 
said Day. 

Allbright turned and looked at him gravely. "So, 
Captain Carroll lives in Orange?" he said. 

326 



THE DEBTOR 



" He may, for all I know." 
"Then you don't know?" 
"Do you?" 

"No; I never have known exactly." 

"Well, I haven't, but I wasn't goin' to let on to that 
chap. And he may live jest where I said he did, for 
all I know. Say!" 

"What?" 

"You s'pose it is all right?" 

Allbright hesitated. His eyes fell on three gold balls 
suspended in the air over a door a little way down a 
cross street. "Yes," he said. "I believe that Captain 
Arthur Carroll will pay every man he owes every dollar 
he owes." 

"Well, I guess it's all right," said Day. "I'm goin' 
to take the girls to Madison Square Garden to-night. 
I'm pretty short of cash, but you may as well live while 
you do live. I wonder if the boss is married." 

"I don't know." 

"I guess he is," said Day, "and I guess he's all right 
and above board. Good-bye, Allbright. See you Mon- 
day." 

But Monday, when the two stenographers, the book- 
keeper, and the clerk met at the office, they found it 
still locked, and a sign "To let" upon the door. 

"Mr. Carroll gave up his office last Saturday," said 
the man in the elevator. "The janitor said so, and 
they have taken his safe out for rent. Guess he bust 
in the Wall Street shindy last week. 

Out on the sidewalk the four looked at one another. 
The pretty stenographer began to cry in a pocket-hand- 
kerchief edged with wide, cheap lace. 

"I call it a shame," she said, "and here I am owing 
for board, and — " 

"Don't cry, May," said Day, with a caressing gesture 
towards her in spite of the place. "I guess it will be 

327 



THE DEBTOR 



all right. He has all our addresses, and we shall hear, 
and 3^ou won't have a mite of trouble getting another 
place.' ' 

"I think I am justified in telling you all not to worry 
in the least, that you will be paid every dollar, " said 
Allbright; but he looked perplexed and troubled. 

"It looks mighty black, his not sending us word he 
was going to close the office," said Day; and then ap- 
peared the tall, lean man who wanted his two thousand 
odd dollars. He did not notice them at all, but started 
to enter the office-building. 

"Come along quick before he comes back," whis- 
pered Day. He seized the astonished girls each by an 
arm and hustled them up the street, and Allbright, 
after a second's hesitation, followed them just as the 
irate man emerged from the door. 



CHAPTER XXVII 



Arthur Carroll, when he had started on his drive 
with his wife and sister that afternoon, was in one of 
those strenuous moods which seem to make one's whole 
being tick with the clock-work of destiny and cause 
everything else, all the environment, and the minor 
happenings of life, to appear utterly idle. Even when 
he talked, and apparently with earnestness, it was al- 
ways with that realization of depths, which made his 
own voice ring empty and strange in his ears. He 
heard his wife and sister chatter with the sense of aloof- 
ness of the inhabitant of another planet ; he thought even 
of the financial difficulties which harassed him, and had 
caused this very mood, with that same sense of aloof- 
ness. When Anna wondered where Charlotte had gone 
to walk, and Mrs. Carroll remarked on the possibility of 
their overtaking her, his mind made an actual effort to 
grasp that simple idea. He was running so deep, and 
with such awful swiftness, in his own groove of personal 
tragedy, that the daughter whom he loved, and had 
seen only a few moments ago, seemed almost left out of 
sight of his memory. However, all the while the usual 
trivialities of his life and the lives of those who belonged 
to him went on with the same regularity and reality 
as tragedy, and with as certain a trend to a catas- 
trophe of joy or misery. 

On that day when Charlotte had her fright from the 
tramp, she remained at the Anderson's to supper. 
Eddy had also remained. When Charlotte had waked 

329 



THE DEBTOR 



from her nap, he followed Anderson into the sitting- 
room, where was Charlotte in Mrs. Anderson's volumi- 
nous, white frilly wrapper, a slight young figure scalloped 
about by soft, white draperies, like a white flower, seated 
comfortably in the largest, easiest chair in the room. 
Mrs. Anderson was standing over her with another glass 
of wine, and a china plate containing two great squares 
of sponge-cake. 

"Do eat this and drink the wine, dear," she urged. 
"It is nearly an hour before supper now." 

' ' Then I really must go home, if it is so late," Char- 
lotte cried. She made a weak effort to rise. vShe was 
still curiously faint when she essayed to move. 

"You are going to stay here and have supper, and 
after supper my son shall take you home. If you are 
not able to walk, we shall have a carriage." 

"I think I must go home, thank you," Charlotte re- 
peated, in a sort of bewildered and grateful dismay. 

"If you think your mother will feel anxious, I will 
send and inform her where you are," said Mrs. Ander- 
son, "but you must stay, my dear." There was about 
her a soft, but incontrovertible authority. It was all 
gentleness, like the overlap of feathers, but it was com- 
pelling. It was while Mrs. Anderson was insisting and 
the girl protesting that Anderson, with Eddy at his heels, 
had entered the room. 

"Why, Eddy dear, is that you?" cried Charlotte. 

Eddy stood before her and surveyed her with com- 
miseration and a strong sense of personal grievance and 
reproach. "Yes, it's me," said he. "Papa told me to 
go to walk with you, and I didn't know which way you 
went, and I couldn't find out for a long time. Then I 
saw Mr. Anderson taking you here, and I ran, but I 
couldn't catch up. He's got awful long legs." Eddy 
looked accusingly at Anderson's legs. 

"It was too bad," said Charlotte. 

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"You were awful silly to get so scared at nothing/' 
Eddy pursued. "I saw that tramp. He looked to 
me like a real nice man. Girls are always imagining 
things. You'd better eat that cake, Charlotte. You 
look awful. That looks like real nice cake." 

"Bless your heart, you shall have some," Mrs. An- 
derson said, and Eddy accepted with alacrity the golden 
block of cake which was offered him. 

"Why, Eddy!" Charlotte said. 

"Now, Charlotte, you know we never have cake like 
this at home," Eddy said, biting into the cake. "Not 
since the egg-man won't trust us any more. I know 
this kind of cake takes lots of eggs. I heard Marie say 
so when Amy asked her to make it." 

Charlotte colored pitifully, and made another effort 
to rise. "Indeed, I think we must go now," said she. 
"Come, Eddy." 

Mrs. Anderson turned to her son for support. " I tell 
her she must not think of going until after tea," she 
said. "Then if she is not able to walk, we will get a 
carriage." 

Eddy removed the fast-diminishing square of cake 
from his mouth and regarded his sister with an expres- 
sion of the most open ingenuousness. "Now, Charlotte, 
I'll tell you something," he said. 

"What, dear?" 

"You might just as well stay, and I'll tell you why. 
Papa and Amy and Anna won't be home until after 
seven." 

"Until after seven?" 

"No. They are going to Addison." 

"To Addison?" 

Addison was a large town some fifteen miles from 
Banbridge. 

"Yes; and they are going to get dinner there." 
"Eddy, are you sure?" 

33i 



THE DEBTOR 



"Yes, of course I am sure," replied Eddy, with the 
wide-open eyes of virtue upon his sister's face. "Amy 
told me to tell you." 

"Now, Eddy/' 

Eddy took another bite of his cake. "I think you 
are pretty mean to speak that way. I never spoke to 
you so," he said. "When you say a thing is so, I never 
say 'Now, Charlotte!"' Eddy, having imitated his 
sister's doubtful tone exactly, took another bite of 
cake. 

"Well, if Amy really said so," Charlotte returned, 
and still with a faint accent of incredulity. It was very 
seldom that the Carrolls took the drive to Addison. 
However, it was an exceedingly pleasant day, and it 
did seem possible. 

"Well, she did," Eddy declared, stoutly; and there 
was in his declaration a slight trace of truth, for Mrs. 
Carroll had mentioned, on starting, that it was such a 
lovely day, that if they had got an earlier start they 
might have driven to Addison; and Anna had replied 
that it was too late now, for they would not get home 
in time for dinner if they went there. The rest Eddy 
had manufactured to serve his own small ends — which 
a stay at the Andersons' to tea, for which he had, re- 
membering his dinner there, the pleasantest anticipa- 
tions. "You had better stay, Charlotte," Eddy urged, 
furthermore, "for you do look awful pale, and as if you 
ought to have something nourishing to eat, and you 
know we won't get much home. The mutton all went 
this noon, and you know, unless papa got some in Addi- 
son, we wouldn't be likely to get any here. I heard 
Anna talking about the butcher only this morning. 
Papa hasn't been able to pay him for a very long time, 
you know, Charlotte." 

Then Charlotte raised herself hastily. "We must go 
home," she said, with a fierce emphasis; but the effort 

332 



THE DEBTOR 



was too much. She sank back, and Mrs. Anderson sent 
her son for the camphor-bottle. 

M Now," said she to Anderson, "you had better take 
him out and show him the dog. I'll fix it up." She 
nodded assuringly towards the little pale face against 
the rose-patterned chintz. 

"Come along, son," said Anderson to the boy, and 
led him out in the garden. "You must not talk quite 
so much, young man," he said to him, when they were 
on their way to the dog -kennel, which was backed up 
against the terrace at the rear of the house, and before 
which stood chained fast a large dog with a bad repu- 
tation. "You had better not touch him," charged An- 
derson, as they approached. Then he repeated, "No, 
you must not talk quite so much." 

"Why not?" demanded Eddy. "He don't look very 
cross." 

"Because," said the man, "there are certain things 
in every family which it is better for a member of the 
family not to repeat outside his home." 

"What did I say?" asked Eddy, wonderingly. "He 
is wagging his tail. He shakes all over. He wouldn't 
do that unless his tail was wagging. I can't see his tail, 
but it must be wagging. What did I say?" 

"When it comes to the family's household affairs — " 
Anderson said. 

"Oh, you mean what I said about the butcher, huh? 
Oh, that don't do any harm, Everybody in Banbridge 
knows about those things. I don't see what difference 
that makes. Folks have to have things, don't they? 
I don't believe that dog would bite me. He is wagging 
just as hard as he can. Don't they?" 

"Yes, of course," agreed Anderson, "but — " 

"And if they don't have the money to pay for things, 
what are they going to do? You wouldn't want all us 
Carrolls to die, would you?" 

333 



THE DEBTOR 



Anderson smiled, and stood between the boy and the 
kennel. 

"I ain't afraid of him," said Eddy. "You wouldn't, 
would you?" 

"Oh, of course not," replied Anderson. 

"I shouldn't think you would, especially Charlotte. 
Say, I think Charlotte is a real pretty girl, if she is my 
sister. Say, why can't I pat him?" 

"You had better not. He bit a boy about your size 
once." 

"Hm! I ain't afraid he'll bite me. Don't you 
think she is ? I don't think you are very polite not to 
say right off." 

"Very pretty, indeed," replied Anderson, laughing. 
Then he spoke to the dog, a large mongrel with a mas- 
terly air, and an evident strain of good blood under his 
white and yellow hide. 

"How much did you pay for that dog?" inquired 
Eddy. 

"I didn't pay anything," replied Anderson. "Some- 
body left him in the street in front of my office when 
he was a puppy, or he strayed there. I never knew 
which." 

"So you took him in?" 

"Yes." 

"Do you always keep him shut up here?" 

"A great part of the time. Sometimes he stays in 
my store nights. He is a very good watch-dog." 

"You keep him shut up because he bit a boy?" 

"Most of the time. He is a little uncertain in his 
temper, I am afraid." 

"Didn't he bite any one but that one boy?" 

"No, not that I know of. But he has sprang at a 
good many people and frightened them, and I have 
either to keep him tied or shoot him." 

"He didn't kill the boy?" 

334 



THE DEBTOR 



Anderson laughed. "Oh no! He was not very 
badly bitten." 

"Well, I know one thing," said Eddy, with con- 
viction. "I would not like a nice dog like that shut 
up all his life because he had bitten me." 

Before Anderson knew what he was about to do, 
Eddy had made a spring, leaping up sideways in the 
air like a kitten, and was close to the dog. And the 
dog, upon whom there was no reliance to be placed, 
except in the case of Anderson himself, hardly stopping 
for a premonitory growl, had seized upon the boy's 
little arm. Having a strain of pure bulldog in him, it 
was considerable trouble to make him let go, and 
Anderson had to use a good deal of force at his collar 
and a thick stick. 

Eddy, meanwhile, made not a whimper, but kept his 
whitening lips close shut. Luckily he had on a thick 
jacket, although the day was so warm, and when Ander- 
son drew away at last from the furious, straining animal, 
and examined the injured member, he found only a 
slight wound. The marks of the dog's teeth were plain- 
ly visible, and there were several breaks of the surface 
and a little blood, but it was certainly not alarming, 
and the animal's usual temper made it improbable that 
any ultra consequences need be feared. 

Eddy was trembling and very pale, but he still made 
not a whimper, as Anderson examined his arm. 

"Well, my son," said Anderson, who was as white as 
the boy, "I think there is not much harm done. But 
it is lucky you had on such a thick sleeve. I can tell 
you that." 

"That was because we have not paid the Chinaman, 
and he wouldn't send home my blouses this week. It 
was so warm I wanted to wear a blouse, but they were 
all at the Chinaman's." Eddy's teeth chattered as he 
spoke, his childish lips quivered, and tears were in his 

335 



THE DEBTOR 



eyes. He continued to tremble violently, but he did 
not for a moment give way. He even shook off the 
protecting arm which Anderson placed around his little 
shoulders. 

" Come, we will go in the house and have this tied up," 
said Anderson. 

But Eddy rebelled. "I don't want a lot of women 
fussing over a little thing like this," said he, stoutly. 
"It isn't anything at all." 

"No, it is not very serious, but all the same it had 
better be tied up, and I have something I want to put 
on it. I tell you what we will do. We will go around 
the back way. I will take you in the kitchen door and 
up the backstairs to my room, and doctor it unknown 
to anybody." 

"I don't want Charlotte to know anything about it; 
she will be just silly enough to faint away again. Girls 
always do make such an awful fuss over nothing," said 
Eddy. 

"All right," said Anderson. "Come along, my 
boy." 

Anderson started, and the boy followed, but sud- 
denly he stopped and ran back before Anderson dreamed 
what he was about. He stopped in front of the kennel, 
and danced on obviously trembling legs a dance of de- 
fiance before the frantic dog. 

Anderson grabbed him by the shoulders. 

"Come at once," he said, quite sternly. 

Eddy obeyed at once. "All right," he said. "I just 
wanted him to see I wasn't afraid of him, that was all." 

Eddy and Anderson entered the house through the 
kitchen door, ascended the backstairs noiselessly, and 
gained Anderson's room, where the wound was bound 
up after an application of a stinging remedy which the 
boy bore without flinching, although it was consider- 
ably more painful than the bite itself. He looked 

336 



THE DEBTOR 



soberly down at his arm, now turning black and blue 
from the bruise of the dog's teeth, beside the inflamed 
spots where they had actually entered, while Anderson 
applied the violent remedy. 

" Well," he said, " I suppose I was to blame. I ought 
to have minded you." 

"Yes, I suppose you ought, my son," assented An- 
derson, continuing to handle the wound gently. 

"And I suppose that is an exclusive dog. He doesn't 
like everybody going right up to him. Say, I guess he 
is a pretty smart dog, but I guess I should rather be 
his master than anybody else. He never bit you, did 
he?" 

"No." 

"I should think he would be an awful nice watch- 
dog," said Eddy. 

Anderson bound the arm tightly and smoothly with 
a bandage. When the arm was finally dressed the 
jacket- sleeve could go over it, much to Eddy's satis- 
faction. 

"Say, this jacket ain't paid for," he said. "Isn't it 
lucky that the man where Amy bought it didn't know 
we didn't have much money to pay for things lately 
and trusted us. If I had on my old jacket, the sleeves 
were so short and tight, because I had outgrown it, 
you know, I'd been hurt a good deal worse, and it was 
lucky we hadn't paid the Chinaman, too. It was real — 
What do you call it?" 

"I don't know what you mean?" said Anderson, 
smiling. 

"It was real — Oh, shucks! you know. What is it 
folks say when they don't go on a railroad train, and 
there's an accident, and everybody that did go is killed. 
You know." 

"Oh, providential?" 

"Yes, it was real providential." 

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THE DEBTOR 



4 'Suppose we go down." 

"All right. Say, you mind you don't say a word 
about this to your mother or Charlotte.' ' 
"Yes, I promise." 

"Your mother is an awful nice lady," said Eddy, in 
a whisper, descending the stairs behind Anderson, "but 
I don't want her fussing over me as if I was a girl, 
'cause I ain't." 

When the two entered the sitting - room, Charlotte 
started and looked at her brother. 

"Eddy Carroll, what is the matter?" she cried. 

"Nothing," declared the little boy, stoutly, but he 
manifestly tottered. 

"Why, the dear child is ill!" cried Mrs. Anderson. 
"Randolph, what has happened?" 

"Nothing!" cried Eddy, holding on to his conscious- 
ness like a hero. "Nothing; and I ain't a dear child." 

"It is nothing, mother," said Anderson, quickly com- 
ing to his rescue. 

Charlotte was eying wisely the knee of Eddy's knicker- 
bockers. " Eddy Carroll," said she, with tender severity, 
"your knee must be paining you terribly." 

' Eddy quickly grasped at the lesser evil. "It ain't 
worth talking about," he responded, stoutly. 

"I can see blood on your knee, dear. It must be bad 
to make you turn so pale as that." 

With a soft swoop like a mother hen, Mrs. Anderson 
descended upon the boy, who did not dare resist that 
gentle authority. She tenderly rolled up the leg of the 
little knickerbockers and examined the bruised, childish 
knee. Then she got some witch-hazel and bound it up. 
While she was doing so, Eddy gazed over her head at 
Anderson with the knowing and confidential twinkle 
which one man gives another when tolerant of wom- 
anly delusion. He even indulged in an apparently insane 
chuckle when Mrs. Anderson finished, and smoothed his 

338 



THE DEBTOR 



little, dark head, and told him that now she was sure 
it would feel better. 

"Eddy," cried Charlotte, ''what are you doing so 
for?" 

"Nothing," replied Eddy. "I was thinking how 
funny I looked when I tumbled down. "But he rolled 
his eyes comically around at Anderson. His arm was 
paining him frightfully, and it struck him as the most 
altogether exquisite joke that Mrs. Anderson should 
be treating his knee, which did not pain him at all, so 
sympathetically. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 



During the progress of the tea at the Andersons' 
Eddy kept furtively glancing at his sister with an ex- 
pression which signified congratulation. 

" Ain't you glad you stayed?" the expression said, 
quite plainly. 

"Did you ever have such nice things to eat? And 
only think what a snippy meal we should have had at 
home!" 

Charlotte met the first of the glances with a covertly 
chiding look and an imperceptible shake of her head; 
then she refused to meet them, keeping her eyes away 
from her exultant brother. She herself was actually 
hungry, poor child, for the truth was that for the last 
few days it had been somewhat short commons at the 
Carrolls', and Charlotte was one of the sort who, under 
such circumstances, are seized with a sudden loss of 
appetite. She had really eaten very little for some 
hours, and now, in spite of a curious embarrassment 
and agitation, which under ordinary circumstances 
would have lessened her desire for food, she herself ate 
eagerly. The meal was both dainty and abundant. 
Mrs. Anderson had always prided herself upon the meals 
she set before guests. There was always in the house a 
store of sweets to be drawn from on such occasions, and 
while Anderson had been binding up Eddy's wound, 
the maid had been sent to the market for a chicken to 
supplement the beefsteak which had been intended for 
the family supper. So there was fried chicken and 

34° 



THE DEBTOR 



celery salad, and the most wonderful cream biscuits, and 
fruit and pound cake, and quince preserves — quarters 
of delectable, long-drawn-out flavor in a rosy jelly — 
and tea and thick cream and loaf-sugar in the old, 
solid service with its squat pieces finished with bead- 
ing. Eddy gloated over it all openly. He fairly for- 
got his manners, for, after all, he was, although in a 
desultory sort of way, a well-bred boy. The Carrolls, 
as far as their manners went, were gentlefolk, and came 
of a long line of gentlefolk. But it happened that the 
china which had come to them from their forebears had 
for the most part been broken in the course of their 
wanderings from place to place, and in its place was an 
ornate and rather costly, and unpaid - for, set. Eddy 
now quite openly lifted the saucer of thin, pink-and- 
gold china, in which his teacup rested, and held it to 
the light. 

"Whew, ain't it thin?" he ejaculated. 

"Why, Eddy!" Charlotte cried, flushing with dismay. 

"I don't care. It is awful thin," persisted the boy. 
He held the saucer before his eyes. "I can see you 
through it; yes, I can," said he. 

But Mrs. Anderson, although her old-fashioned ideas 
of the decorous behavior due from children at table were 
somewhat offended, and she later told her son that it 
did seem to her that the boy must have been somewhat 
neglected, was yet very susceptible to flattery of those 
teacups, which had descended to her from her own 
mother, and which she had always regarded as superior 
to any of the Anderson family china, of which there 
was quite a store. So she merely smiled and remarked 
gently that the china was very old, and she believed 
quite rare, and it was, indeed, unusually thin, yet not a 
piece of the original set had been broken. 

"Why didn't we have china like this instead of that 
we have?" demanded Eddy of Charlotte. 

34i 



THE DEBTOR 



" Hush, dear," said Charlotte. "This china is so very 
old and valuable, you know, that not every one could — 
that we could not — I believe we had some very 
pretty china in our family, but it all got broken," she 
added. 

"It didn't begin to be so pretty as this," said Eddy. 
"I remember it. The cups were like bowls, and there 
were black wreaths around them. There weren't any 
handles, either. I don't see why we couldn't have got 
some china as pretty as this. Suppose it was valuable. 
Why, I don't believe that we have now is paid for. 
What difference would it make?" 

Charlotte blushed so that Mrs. Anderson felt an im- 
pulse to draw the poor, little, troubled head upon her 
shoulder and tell her not to mind. 

"Let me give you some more of the quince preserve, 
dear," she said, in the softest voice; and Charlotte, who 
did not want it, passed her little glass dish to take ad- 
vantage of the opportunity afforded her to cover her 
confusion. 

"What difference would it make, say, Charlotte?" 
persisted Eddy. 

"Hush, dear," said Charlotte, painfully. 
Here, son, pass your plate for this chicken," said 
Anderson; and Eddy, with a shrewd glance of half- 
comprehension from one to the other, passed his plate 
and subsided, after a muttered remark that he didn't 
see why Charlotte minded. 

"Wasn't that a bully supper?" he whispered, press- 
ing close to his sister when they entered the sitting- 
room after the meal was finished. 

"Hush, dear," she whispered back. 

"Ain't you glad you stayed? You wouldn't, if it 
hadn't been for me." 

Charlotte turned and looked at him sharply. Mrs. 
Anderson had lingered in the dining-room to give some 

342 



THE DEBTOR 



directions to the maid, and Anderson had stepped out 
on the porch for a second's puff at a cigar. 

"Eddy Carroll," said she, in a whisper, "you didn't?" 

Eddy faced her defiantly. " Didn't what?" 

"You didn't tell a lie about that?" 

Eddy lowered his eyes, frowned, and scraped one foot 
in a way he had when embarrassed. "Amy did say 
something about it was such a pleasant day and Addi- 
son," he replied, doggedly. 

"But did she say they were really going there, and 
would not be back?" 

"Anna said if thev went there they could not get 
back." 

"But did she say they were going? Tell me the 
truth," Eddy Carroll." 
Eddy scraped. 

"I see they did not," said Charlotte, severely. 

"Eddy, I don't know what papa will say." 

"I know," said Eddy, simply, with a curious mixture 
of ruefulness and defiance. Then he added: "If you 
want to be mean enough to tell on a feller, after he's 
been the means of your having such a supper as that 
(and you were hungry, too; you needn't say you wasn't; 
you ate an awful lot yourself), you can." 

"I am not going to tell unless I am asked, when I 
certainly shall not tell a lie," replied Charlotte; "but 
papa will find it out himself, I am afraid, Eddy." 

"I shouldn't wonder if he did," admitted Eddy. 

"And then, you know — " 

"Yes, I know; but I don't care. I have had that 
bully supper, anyhow. He can't alter that. And, say, 
Charlotte." 

"What?" asked Charlotte, severely. "I am ashamed 
of you, Eddy." 

"I don't see why papa don't get a store, like him" — 
he jerked an expressive shoulder towards the scent of 
*3 343 



THE DEBTOR 



the cigar smoke — "and then we could have things as 
good as they do." 

But then Charlotte turned on him with fierceness 
none the less intense, although necessarily subdued. 
"Eddy Carroll," she whispered, with a long-drawn 
sibilance, "to turn on your father, a man like papa! 
Eddy Carroll! Poor papa does the best he can, always, 
always." 

"I suppose he does," said Eddy, quite loudly. "My, 
Charlotte, you needn't act as if you were going to bite 
a feller. I've had enough of — " 

"What?" asked Charlotte. 

"Nothing," said Eddy. His arm was paining him 
quite severely. It had been quite an ordeal for him to 
manage his knife and fork at supper without betrayal. 

"What were you going to say?" persisted Charlotte. 

"Nothing," said Eddy, doggedly — "nothing at all. 
Don't act so fierce, Charlotte. It isn't lady-like. Amy 
never speaks so awful quick." 

Charlotte began putting on her hat, which had been 
left on the sitting-room table. " I am ashamed of you," 
she whispered again. "I was ashamed of you all tea- 
time." 

Eddy whistled in a mannish fashion. Charlotte con- 
tinued adjusting her hat and smoothing her fluff of 
dark hair. Her face, in the mirror which hung between 
the two front windows, looked not so angry as sorrowful, 
and with a dewy softness in the pretty eyes, and a 
slight quiver about the soft mouth. Eddy glanced 
several times at this reflected face; then he stole, with 
a sudden, swift motion, up behind his sister, threw his 
arms around her neck, although it hurt him cruelly, 
and laid his boyish cheek against her soft, girlish one. 

"No, you need not think that will make up," whis- 
pered Charlotte. But she herself pressed her cheek 
tenderly against his, and then laughed softly. "Try 

344 



THE DEBTOR 



not to do so again, dear," she said. "It mortified me, 
and it is not being a credit to papa. Think a little and 
try to remember how you have been brought up." 

"Charlotte," whispered Eddy, in the softest, most 
furtive of whispers, casting a glance over his shoulder. 

"What is it, dear?" 

"I suppose they" — he indicated by a motion of his 
shoulder his host and hostess — "are just as nice people 
as — we are — as the Carrolls." 

"Of course they are," replied. Charlotte, hastily. 
She pushed Eddy away softly and began to fuss again 
with her hat. "We must go home right away," she 
said, "or they will worry." 

"There is no need of his going home with you, as 
long as I am here," said Eddy. 

"Of course not," replied Charlotte. 

But it seemed that Anderson himself had other views, 
and his mother also, for although a sudden and not al- 
together easy suspicion had come to her, she whispered 
aside to him that he must certainly accompany the 
two home. 

"It is quite dark already," she said, "and it is not 
fit for that child to go alone with nobody but that boy, 
after the fright she has had this afternoon. She is 
just in the condition now when a shadow might up- 
set her. You really must go with her, Randolph." 

"I have no intention of doing anything else, mother," 
Randolph replied, laughing. He had been, indeed, tak- 
ing his overcoat from the tree in the hall when his moth- 
er had come out to speak to him. Charlotte had said, 
on rising from the table, that she must go home at 
once. 

Mrs. Anderson enveloped the girl in her large, gentle, 
lavender-scented embrace, and received with pleasant 
disclaimers her assurances of obligations and thanks; 
then she stood in the window and, with a little mis- 

345 



THE DEBTOR 



giving and a ready imagination for future trouble, 
watched them emerge from the little front yard and 
disappear down the street under the low-growing maple 
branches which were turning slowly, and flashed gold 
over their heads in electric lights. She reflected judicial- 
ly that while Charlotte was undoubtedly a sweet girl, and 
very pretty, very pretty, indeed, and, while her own heart 
was drawn to her, yet she would make no sort of wife 
for her son. She remembered with a shudder Eddy's re- 
marks at the table. 

"He is a pretty little boy, too," she thought, with a 
maternal thrill, remembering her own son at that age. 
When she returned to the dining - room to wash the 
pink-and-gold cups and saucers, in her little bowl of 
hot water on the end of the table, as was her custom 
when the best china had been used, the maid, who was 
clearing the table, and who had been encouraged to 
conversation from the lack of another woman in the 
house, and her mistress's habit of gentle garrulity, spoke 
upon the subject in her mind. 

"Them was them Carrolls that lives in the Ranger 
place, was they not ?" said she. The maid was a curious 
product of the region, having somewhat anomalously 
graduated at a high-school in New Sanderson before en- 
tering service, and gotten a strange load of unassimilated 
knowledge, which was particularly exemplified in her 
English. She scorned contractions, but equally scorned 
possessives and legitimate tenses. She wrote a beautiful 
hand, using quite ambitious words, but she totally mis- 
interpreted the meaning of these very words in current 
literature, particularly the cook-book. Her bread was 
as heavy with undigested facts as is the stomach of a 
dyspeptic with food, but she was, in a way, a good ser- 
vant, very faithful, attached to Mrs. Anderson, and a 
guileless purveyor of gossip, which rendered her exceed- 
ingly entertaining. She sniffed meaningly now in re- 

346 



THE DEBTOR 



spouse to Mrs. Anderson's affirmative with regard to the 
identity of the recent guests. 

"They did not fail to eat enough," said she, present- 
ly, packing up the plates and looking at her mistress, 
who was drying carefully a pink-and-gold cup on a soft 
towel. 

"Yes, they seemed to relish the food," responded Mrs. 
Anderson. 

The maid sniffed again, and her sniff meant the grati- 
fication of the cook who sees her work appreciated, and 
something else — an indulgent scorn. "Well, I guess 
there is reason enough for them relishing it," said she. 

Mrs. Anderson made a soft, interrogatory noise, all 
that was consistent with her dignity and her sense of 
honor as a recent hostess towards departed guests. 

The maid went on. "They do say," said she, "them 
as knows, that them Carrolls do not have enough to 
eat." 

Mrs. Anderson made a little exclamation expressive of 
horror and pity. 

"Yes, they do say so," the maid went on, solemnly. 
"They do say, them that knows, that them Carrolls be 
owing everybody in Banbridge, and have cheated folks 
that have trusted in them awful." 

"Well, I am sorry if it is so," said Mrs. Anderson, 
with a sigh, "but of course this young lady who was 
here to-night and her little brother can't be to blame in 
any way, Emma." 

The maid sniffed with a deprecating disagreement. 
" Mebbe they be not," said she. She was rather a pretty 
girl, in her late girlhood, thin and large - boned, with 
a bright color on her evident cheek-bones, and with 
small, sparkling, blue eyes. She was extremely neat and 
trim, moreover, in her personal habits, and to-night was 
quite gorgeously arrayed in a light silk waist and a 
nice black skirt. She was expecting her beau to take 

347 



THE DEBTOR 



her to evening prayer-meeting. She was a very religious 
girl, and had reclaimed her beau, who had had a liking 
for the gin-mills previous to keeping company with her. 

"Of course they are not," said Mrs. Anderson, with 
some warmth of partisanship, remembering poor little 
Charlotte's pretty, anxious face and her tiny, soft, cling- 
ing hands. She glanced, as she spoke, at the maid's 
large, red-knuckled fingers with a mental comparison. 

The maid was fixed in her own rendering of English 
verbs, and had told her beau that her mistress did not 
speak just right, like most old folks. 

"Mebbe they be not," she said, with firm doubt. 
Then she added, " It would not hurt them Carroll ladies, 
that young lady, nor her mother, nor her aunt, if they 
was to take hold, and do the housework them own selves, 
instead of keeping a girl, who they do not never pay." 

"Oh, dear! Do you know that?" 

"Indeed I do know that! Ed, he told me. He had 
it straight from them Hungarians who live in the house 
back of his married sister's. The Carroll girl, she goes 
there, and she told them, and them told Ed's sister." 

"Perhaps she has had some of her wages. You don't 
mean she has not been paid at all?" Mrs. Anderson said. 

"I mean not at all," the maid said, firmly. "That 
girl that works for them Carrolls has not been paid, not 
at all." 

"Why does she remain there, then?" 

"She would have went a long time ago if she not 
been afraid, lest, if she had went, it would have come 
about that she would have lost all she was going to lose 
as well as that which she had lost before," replied the 
girl, and Mrs. Anderson, being accustomed to her method 
of expression, understood. 

"It is dreadful," she said. 

"They say he has about ruined a great many of the 
people in Banbridge who have trusted them," said the 

348 



THE DEBTOR 



maid, with a sly, keen glance at her mistress. She had 
heard that Mr. Anderson was one of the losers, and she 
wondered. 

"They have paid my son promptly, I believe," said 
Mrs. Anderson, although a little reluctantly. She al- 
ways disliked alluding to the store to her maid, much 
more so than towards her equals. But that the maid 
misunderstood. She often told her beau that Mrs. 
Anderson was not a bit set up nor proud-feeling, if her 
son did have a store. Therefore, to-night she under- 
stood humility instead of pride from her mistress's tone, 
and looked at her admiringly as she daintily polished the 
delicate pink-and-gold cups. 

"I am very glad, indeed, that Mr. Randolph has not 
lost nothing through them," she replied. 

"No, he has not," Mrs. Anderson repeated. "I dare 
say it is all exaggerated. The young lady who was here 
to-night seems like a very sweet girl." 

Mrs. Anderson said that from a beautiful sense of 
loyalty and justice, while in her mind's eye she saw 
her beloved son walking along through the early night 
with the young lady on his arm, and perhaps falling des- 
perately in love, even at this date, and beginning to 
think of matrimony with a member of a family about 
which such tales were told in Banb ridge. 

But the harm had been done long before she had 
dreamed of it, and her son had been very much in love 
with the girl on his arm before he had scarcely known 
her by sight. Anderson that night felt in a sort of 
dream. He was for the first time practically alone with 
Charlotte, for Eddy accompanied them very much 
after the fashion of an extremely lively little dog. He 
ran ahead, he lagged behind, and made dashes ahead 
with wild whoops. He hid behind trees, and sprang out 
at them when they passed. He was frequently start- 
lingly obvious, but could not be said to actually be 

349 



THE DEBTOR 



with them. He had wondered frankly, before they 
started, as to why Anderson wished to accompany them 
at all. 

"I don't see why you want to go 'way up to our 
house when Charlotte has got me," he said. "Ain't 
you tired ?" 

Something in Anderson's persistency seemed to strike 
him as significant, for he walked behind them quite 
soberly, with his eye upon their backs in a speculative 
fashion at first; then he seemed to be seized with wild 
excitement, and began frantic demonstrations to attract 
Anderson's attention. In reality the boy was jealous, 
although nobody dreamed of such a thing. 

" A man will never notice a feller when a pretty girl's 
around; and she ain't so very pretty, either," he said to 
himself. He regarded Anderson as his find, and was 
naturally indignant with Charlotte. So all the way 
home he darted and veered about them, in order to 
divert the man's mind from the girl to the faithful lit- 
tle boy, but with no avail. Once or twice Charlotte 
spoke reproachfully to him, and that was all. Anderson 
never spoke a word to him, and his grief and jealousy 
grew. 

Anderson, walking along the shadowy street with 
Charlotte's little hand in his arm, would have been ob- 
livious to much more startling demonstrations than 
poor Eddy's. He was profoundly agitated, stirred to 
the depths, and for that very reason he acquitted him- 
self with more dignity and quiet calm than usual. He 
held himself with such a tight rein that his soul ached, 
but he never relaxed his hold. He told himself that 
it would be monstrous if by a word or gesture, by a 
tone of the voice, he betrayed anything to this little, 
innocent, timid, frightened girl on his arm. He never 
dreamed of the remotest possibility of dreams on her 
part. The soul beside him, seemingly separated only 

35° 



THE DEBTOR 

by thin walls of flesh, was in reality separated by 
an abyss of the imagination. But every minute his 
heart seemed to encompass her more and more tenderly, 
seemed to enfold her, shielding her from itself with its 
own love. Now and then he looked down at her, and 
the sight of the little, pale, flower-like face turned tow- 
ards his with a serious, guileless scrutiny, like a baby's, 
caused him to fairly tremble with his passion of pro- 
tection and adoration. They talked very little. Char- 
lotte, if the truth were told, in spite of the tender nurs- 
ing she had received, was still feeling rather shaken, and 
she had also a curious sense of timid and excited happi- 
ness, which tied her tongue and wove her thoughts even 
into an incoherent dazzle. When Anderson spoke, it 
was very coolly, on quite indifferent topics, and Char- 
lotte answered him in her soft, rather unsteady little 
voice, and then conversation lagged again. It was on 
Anderson's tongue to question her closely as to her 
entire recovery from her fright of the afternoon, but 
he did not even do that, being afraid to trust his voice. 

As they drew near the Carroll house, a doubt and per- 
plexity which had been haunting Charlotte, assumed 
larger proportions, and Anderson himself had a thought 
also of the complication. Charlotte was wondering if 
she should ask him in. She was wondering what her 
mother and aunt would think. She knew what they 
would do, of course — that is, so far as their reception 
of the man who had befriended her, and whose mother 
had befriended her was concerned. They were gentle- 
women. And she knew quite certainly about her father. 
But she wondered as to their real attitude, their mental 
attitude, and she wondered still more with regard to 
Anderson. Would he expect to be invited in? In 
what fashion did he read his own social status in the 
village. Anderson also was considering, during the last 
of the way, if he should enter the Carroll house and pre- 

35i 



THE DEBTOR 

sent his apologies and his mother's for having urged the 
fugitive members of the family to remain, and he won- 
dered a good deal as to the desirable course for him to 
adopt, even supposing he were invited. While he had 
no consciousness whatever of any loss of prestige among 
people whom he had always known in the village, while, 
in fact, he never gave it a thought — yet he knew reason- 
ably that outsiders might possibly look at matters dif- 
ferently, that his own unshaken estimate of himself, the 
estimate which was the same in a grocery-store as in 
a lawyer's office, might not be accepted. He recognized 
the fact with amusement rather than indignation, but 
he recognized it. He wondered how the girl would look 
at it all, whether she would ask him in to make the ac- 
quaintance of her family, and whether, if she did so he 
should accept. 

But Charlotte came to have no doubt whatever that 
she should ask him. Suddenly a great wave of loyalty 
towards this new friend came over her, loyalty and great 
courage. 

"Of course I shall ask him, when he has done all he 
has for me, he and his mother," she decided. "I shall, 
and I don't care what they think. I don't care. He 
is a gentleman, as much a gentleman as papa." Char- 
lotte walked more erect, the pressure of her hand on 
Anderson's arm tightened a little unconsciously. When 
they reached the Carroll grounds she spoke very sweet- 
ly^ and not at all hesitatingly. 

"You will come in and let my family thank you for 
your kindness to me, Mr. Anderson," she said. 

Anderson smiled down at her, and hesitated. "I do 
not require any thanks. What I have done was only a 
pleasure," he said. In his anxiety to control his voice, 
he overdid the matter, and made it exceedingly cool. 

"He means he would have done just the same for 
any other girl, and it is silly for me to think he needs to 

35 2 



THE DEBTOR 



be thanked so much for it," thought Charlotte, like a 
flash. She was full of the hair-splitting fancies of young 
girlhood in their estimate of a man. Her heart sank, 
but she repeated, still sweetly, though now a little more 
formally: ' 1 Then please come in and meet my father and 
mother and aunt. I should like to have you know them, 
and I am sure it would be a great pleasure to them." 

" Thank you, Miss Carroll," Anderson said, slowly. 
Then, while he hesitated, came suddenly the sound of 
a shrill, vituperating voice from the house, a voice 
raised in a solo-like effect, the burden of which seemed 
both grief and rage, and contumely. 

Eddy, who had given one of his dashes ahead, when 
they reached the grounds, came flying back. "Say," 
he said, "there's an awful shindy in the house. The 
dressmaker is pitching into papa for all she is worth, 
and there are some other folks, but she's goin' it loud- 
est; but they are all going it! Cracky! Hear 'em!" 

Indeed, at that second the solo became a chorus. 
The house seemed all clamorous with scolding voices. 
The door stood open, and the hall-light streamed out 
in the hall. 

"Marie, she's in there, too," said Eddy, in an odd 
sort of glee, "and Martin. They are all pitching into 
papa for their money, but he's enough for them." It 
became evident why the boy's voice was gleeful. He 
was pitting his father, with the most filial pride and 
confidence, against his creditors. 

Anderson held out his hand to Charlotte. "Good- 
night," he said, hastily, "and I hope you will feel no 
ill effects to-morrow from your fright." Then he was 
gone before Charlotte could say anything more. 

"It's an awful shindy," Eddy said, still in that tone 
of strange glee, to his sister. To his great amazement, 
she caught him suddenly by his arm, the hurt one, but 
he did not flinch. 

353 



THE DEBTOR 



The girl began to cry. "Oh, Eddy!" she sobbed, 
pitifully. "Oh, Eddy dear!" 

"What are you crying for, Charlotte?" asked Eddy, 
giving his head a rough caressing duck against hers. 
"Papa's enough for them; you know that. He ain't a 
mite scared." 



CHAPTER XXIX 

Anderson, as he went away that night, had before 
his eyes Charlotte's little face, the intensity of which 
had seemed to make it fairly luminous in the dim light, 
as she had turned it towards him. There was in that 
face at once unreasoning and childish anger that he 
was there at all, and in a measure a witness of the dis- 
tress and disgrace of herself and her family, and a 
piteous appeal for help — at once a forbidding and a be- 
seeching. For Anderson, naturally, the forbidding seem- 
ed most in evidence as an impulse to action. He felt 
that he must withdraw immediately and save them all 
the additional mortification that he could. So he hur- 
ried away down the road, with the girl's face before his 
eyes, and the sound of the scolding voice in the house in 
his ears. The voice carried far. In spite of the wrath in 
it, it was a sweet, almost a singing, voice, high-pitched 
but sonorous. It was the voice of little Willy Eddy's 
German wife, and it came from a pair of strong lungs in 
a well-developed chest, and was actuated by a strong 
and indignant spirit. Arthur Carroll, listening to her, 
was conscious of an absurdly impersonal sentiment of 
something like admiration. The young woman was 
really in a manner superb. The occasion was trivial, 
even ignoble. Carroll felt contemptuous both for her 
and for himself, and yet she dignified it to a degree. 
Minna Eddy was built on a large scale; she was both 
muscular and stout. Her short, blue-woollen skirt, in- 
creasing with its fulness her firm hips, disclosed gen- 

355 



THE DEBTOR 



erously her sturdy feet and ankles, which had a certain 
beauty of fitness as pedestals of support for her great 
bulk of femininity. She had come out just as she had 
been about her household tasks, and her cotton blouse, 
of an incongruous green-figured pattern, was open at 
the neck, disclosing a meeting of curves in a roseate 
crease, and one sleeve, being badly worn, revealed a 
pink boss of elbow. Minna Eddy had a distinctly hand- 
some face, so far as feature and color went. It was a 
harmonious combination of curves and dimples, all 
overspread with a deep bloom, as of milk and roses, 
and her fair hair was magnificent. She had a marvel- 
lous growth both for thickness and length, and it was 
plaited smoothly, covering the back of the head as 
with a mat. She had come out with a blue handker- 
chief tied over her head, but she had torn it off, and 
waved it like a flag of battle in one fat, muscular hand 
as she lifted on high her voice of musical wrath. She 
spoke good English, although naturally tinctured by 
the abuses of the country-side. She had come to Ameri- 
ca before she could talk at all, and all her training had 
been in the country. The only trace of her German 
descent was in the sounds of certain letters, especially 
d and v. She said t for d, and / for v. Carroll noticed 
that as he noticed every detail. His senses seemed un- 
naturally acute, as possibly any animal's may be when 
at bay, and when the baiting has fairly begun. 

A little behind Minna Eddy, and at her right, stood 
her husband, with a face of utter discomfiture and ter- 
ror. Now and then he reached out a small, twitching 
hand and made an ineffectual clutch at her elbow as 
she talked on. At times he rolled terrified and appeal- 
ing eyes at Carroll. He seemed even to be begging for 
his partisanship, although the absurdity of that was 
obvious. 

"Oh, you other man," his eyes seemed to say, "see 
356 



THE DEBTOR 



how terrible a woman can be ! What can we do against 
such might as this?" The room was quite full of peo- 
ple, but Minna Eddy had the platform. 

"You, you, you!" she repeated before every para- 
graph of invective, like a prelude and refrain. "You, 
you, you!" and she fairly hurled the words at Carroll 
— "you, you, you! gettin' my man" — with a fierce back- 
ward lunge of her bare right elbow towards her hus- 
band, who shrank away, and a fierce backward roll of 
a blue eye — "gettin' my man to take all his money and 
spend it for no goot. You, you, you! When I haf need 
of it for shoes and stockings for the children, when 
I go with my dress in rags. You, you, you!" She 
went on and on, with a curious variety in the midst of 
monotony. The stream of her invective flowed on like 
a river with ever-new ripples. There was a species of 
fascination in it for the man who was the object of it, 
and there seemed to be also a compelling quality for 
the others in the room. There had been no precon- 
certed movement among Carroll's creditors, but a num- 
ber of them had that evening descended upon him in 
a body. In the parlor were the little dressmaker; the 
druggist; the butcher; Tappan, the milkman; the two 
stenographers, and Harrison Day, the clerk, who had 
come on the seven-o'clock train from New York; two 
men with whom he had dealings in a horse-trade; an 
old man who had made the garden the previous spring ; 
and another butcher who had driven over from New 
Sanderson. In the dining-room door stood Marie, the 
Hungarian maid, and behind her was the coachman. 
Carroll stood leaning against the corner of the mantel- 
piece; some of the others were defiantly yet deprecat- 
ingly seated, some were standing. Anna Carroll, quite 
pale, with an odd, fixed expression, stood near her 
brother. When Charlotte entered the house, she took 
up a position in the hall, leaning against the wall, near 

357 



THE DEBTOR 



the door. She could hear every word, but she was 
quite out of sight. She leaned heavily against the wall, 
for her limbs trembled under her, and she could scarcely 
stand. Her aunt had looked around as she entered, 
and a question as to where she had been had shaped 
itself on her lips: then her look of inquiry and relief had 
died away in her expression of bitter concentration 
upon the matter in hand. She had been alarmed about 
Charlotte, as they had all been. Mrs. Carroll had 
called softly down the stairs to know if Charlotte had 
come, and the girl had answered, " Yes, Amy dear." 

"Where have you been, dear?" asked the soft voice, 
from an indistinct mass of floating white at the head 
of the stairs. 

"I'll tell you by-and-by, Amy dear." 

"I was alarmed about you," said the voice, "it was 
so late; about you and Eddy." 

" He has come, too." 

"Yes, I heard him." Then the voice added, quite 
distinctly petulant, "I have a headache, but it is so 
noisy I cannot get to sleep." Then there was a rustle 
of retreat, and Charlotte leaned against the wall, listen- 
ing to the hushed turmoil surmounted by that voice of 
accusation in the parlor. Eddy stood full in the door- 
way, in a boyish, swaggering attitude, his hands on his 
hips, and bent slightly, with sharp eyes of intense en- 
joyment on Minna Eddy. Suddenly, Carroll turned and 
caught sight of him, and as if perforce the boy's eyes 
turned to meet his father's. Carroll did not speak, but 
he raised his hand and pointed to the hall with an up- 
ward motion for the stairs, and Eddy went, with a faint 
whimper of remonstrance. The scolding woman saw 
the little, retreating figure, and directly the torrent of 
her vituperation was turned into a new course. 

"You, you, you!" she proclaimed; "dressin' your boy 
up in fine clothes, while mine children have went in 

358 



THE DEBTOR 



rags since you have came to Banbridge! You, you, you! 
gettin' all my man's money, and dressin' up your boy 
in clothes that I haf paid for! You, you, you!" 

But Minna Eddy had unwittingly furnished the right 
key-note for a whole chorus. Madame Griggs, who had 
been rocking jerkily in a small, red-plush chair which 
squeaked faintly, sprang up, and left it still rocking and 
squeaking. 

"Yes," said she, "yes, that is so. Look at the way 
the whole family dress, at other people's expense!" 

She was hysterical still, yet she had not lost her 
sense of the gentility of self-restraint. That would come 
later. Her face worked convulsively, red spots were on 
her thin cheeks, but there was still an ingratiating, some- 
what servile, tone in her voice, and she looked scorn- 
fully at Minna Eddy. Then J. Rosenstein, who kept 
the principal dry -goods store in Banbridge, bore his 
testimony. His grievances were small, but none the 
less vital. His business dealings with the Carrolls had 
been limited to sundry spools of thread and kitchen 
towellings and buttons, but they were as lead in his 
estimate of wrong, although he had a grave, introspec- 
tive expression, out of proportion to the seeming trivial- 
ity of the matter in his mind. He held in one long hand 
a slip of paper, and eyed Carroll with dignified accu- 
sation. 

"This is the fifth bill I have made out," he remarked, 
and he raised his voice to the pitch of his brethren of 
the Bowery when they hawk in the street. "The fifth 
bill I have made out, and it is only for one dollar and 
fifty-three cents, and I am poor." 

His intellectual Semitic face took on an ignoble ex- 
pression of one who squeezes justice to petty ends for 
his own deserts. His whine penetrated the rising chorus 
of the other voices, even of the butcher, who was a 
countryman of his own, and who said something with 
»4 359 



THE DEBTOR 



dolorous fervor about the bill for meat which had been 
running for six weeks, and not a dollar paid. He was 
of a more common sort, and rendered a trifle indifferent 
by a recent visit to a beer-saloon. He was also some- 
what stupefied by an excess of flesh, as to the true 
exigencies of life in general. After he had spoken he 
coughed wheezily, settled his swelling bulk more com- 
fortably in the red-velvet chair, and planted his wide- 
apart, elephantine legs more firmly on the floor, while 
he mentally appraised the Oriental rug beneath his 
feet, with a view to the possibility of his taking that in 
lieu of cash, and making a profitable bargain for its 
ultimate disposal with a cousin in trade in New York. 
Looking up, he caught Rosenstein's eyes just turning 
from a regard of the same rug, and the two men's 
thoughts met with a mental clash. Then the New 
Sanderson butcher, who was a great, handsome, blond 
man with a foam of yellow beard, German, but not Jew, 
strolled silently over to them, and with sharp eyes on 
the rug, conferred with the other two in low, eager 
whispers. From that time they paid little attention 
to what was going on around them. They talked, they 
gesticulated, they felt of the rug. 

Madame Griggs, settling her skirts genteelly, spoke 
again. "I guess my bill has been running fully as long 
as anybody's here," she said, in her snrall, shrill voice. 
She eyed the two stenographers as she spoke, with 
jealous suspicion. There was a certain smartness about 
their attire, and she suspected them of being City dress- 
makers. She also suspected the strange young man 
with them of being a City lawyer, whom they had 
brought with them to urge their claims. Madame 
Stella Griggs had a ready imagination. The two stenog- 
raphers had not spoken at all. From time to time the 
prettier wept, softly, in her lace-edged handkerchief; 
the other looked pale and nervous. Whenever she 

360 



THE DEBTOR 

looked at Carroll her mouth quivered. The young man 
sat still and winked furiously. He had discovered 
Carroll's address and informed the girls, and they had 
planned this descent upon their employer. Now they 
were there, they were frightened and intimidated and 
distressed. They were a gentle lot, of the sort that 
are born to be led. Their resentment and sense of in- 
justice overwhelmed them with grief, rather than a de- 
sire for retaliation. They were in sore straits for their 
money, yet all would have walked again into the snare, 
and they regarded Carroll with the same awed admira- 
tion as of old. No one but felt commiseration for him, 
and trust in his ultimate payment of their wages. They 
regarded the other creditors with a sort of mild con- 
tempt. They felt themselves of another kind, especial- 
ly from the Germans and Jews. When Willy Eddy's 
wife had declaimed, one stenographer had whispered 
to the other, "How vulgar!" and the other had respond- 
ed with a nod and curl of a lip of scorn. They met 
Madame Griggs's hostile regard with icy stares. The 
less pretty girl said to the young man that she thought 
it was mean for a dressmaker to come* there and hound 
folks like that, and he nodded, winking disapprovingly 
at poor Madame Griggs, who was just then cherishing 
the wild idea of consulting him for herself in his supposed 
capacity of a lawyer. The stenographer, turning from 
her remark to the clerk, met the laughing but imperti- 
nent gaze of one of the horse-trading men, and she 
turned her back upon him with an emphasis that pro- 
voked a chuckle from his companion. 

"Got it in the shoulder then, Bill," he remarked, 
quite audibly, and the other reddened and grinned fool- 
ishly. They were rough-looking men with a certain 
swagger of smartness. They regarded Carroll with a 
swearing emphasis, yet with a measure of reluctantly 
compelled admiration. 

361 



THE DEBTOR 



"I'll be damned if he ain't the first that ever got the 
better of Jim Dickerson," one had said to the other, as 
they had driven up to the house that evening. "I'll 

be damned if I see now how he got the better of 

me," the other rejoined, with a bewildered expression. 
As he spoke his mind revolved in the devious mesh of 
trap which he had set for Carroll, and realized the clean 
cutting of it by Carroll by the ruthless method of self- 
interest. Neither man had spoken besides a defiant 
response to Carroll's polite ' ' Good-evening," when they 
had entered. They sat and watched and listened. 
Occasionally one raised a hand, and an enormous dia- 
mond glowed with a red light like a ruby. In the four- 
in-hand tie of the other a scarf-pin in the shape of a 
horse's head with diamond eyes caught the light with 
infinitesimal sparks of fire. Above it his clean-shaven, 
keen, blue-eyed face kept watch, sharply ready to strike 
anger as the diamonds struck light, and yet with a cer- 
tain amusement. He had shown his teeth in a smile 
when Willy Eddy's wife pronounced her tirade. He did 
so again when she reopened, having regained her wind. 
When she spoke *this time, she glared at Anna Carroll 
with a dazzling look of spite. 

" There ain't no red silk dresses for me to rig out in," 
said she, and she pointed straight at Anna's silken skirts. 
"No, there ain't, and there won't be, so long as my 
man's money goes to pay for hers." She said "hers" 
with a harder emphasis than if she said "yours." 

Anna never returned her vicious look, she never moved 
a muscle of her handsome face, nor changed color. She 
continued to stand beside her brother, with a curious 
expression of wide partisanship, and of regard for these 
people as objects of offence as a whole, rather than as 
individuals. 

"Folks can pretend to be deaf if they want to," said 
Minna Eddy, "but they hear, an' they'll hear more." 

362 



THE DEBTOR 



"That was fifteen dollars beside the findings, and they 
amounted to twelve dollars and sixty-three cents more, ,, 
said Madame Griggs, and this time she addressed the 
young man whom she took to be a lawyer. She met 
his nervous winks with a piteous smile of appealing 
confidence. She wondered if possibly he might not be 
willing to undertake her cause in connection with the 
other supposed dressmakers' at a reduced rate. No- 
body paid the slightest attention when she spoke, Anna 
Carroll least of all. 

Suddenly, Henry Lee tiptoed into the room. He came 
in smiling and nervous. When he saw the assembled 
company he started, and gave an inquiring glance at 
Carroll, who regarded him in an absent-minded fashion, 
as if he hardly comprehended the fact of his entrance. 
It was the glance of a man whose mind is too crowded 
to admit of more. But Lee went close to him, bowing 
low to Anna, and extending his hand with urbanity, 
flustered, it is true, yet still with urbanity. 

"Good -evening, captain/' he said, and even then, in 
sore distress of mind as he was, he looked about at the 
company for admiration for this proof of his intimacy 
with such a man. 

"Good -evening," Carroll said, mechanically, and he 
shook hands. Anna Carroll also said "Good-evening," 
and smiled automatically. 

"A fine evening," said Lee, but he got no rejoinder 
to that. He looked at the company, and his small, smug, 
fatuous face, which was somewhat pale and haggard, 
frowned with astonishment. Again he looked for in- 
formation into Carroll's unanswering face. He looked at 
an empty chair near him ; then he looked at Carroll and 
his sister standing, and did not seat himself. He also 
leaned against the mantel on the other corner from 
Carroll, and endeavored to assume an unconcerned air, 
as if it were quite the usual thing for him to drop into 

3^3 



THE DEBTOR 



the house and encounter such a nondescript company. 
He looked across at the druggist and postmaster, and 
bowed with flourishing politeness. He said to Carroll, 
endeavoring to make his voice so unobtrusive that it 
would be unheard by the company, but with the non- 
success usual to a nervous and self-conscious man, that 
he had a word to say to him later on when he was at 
liberty, some matter of business which he wished to 
talk over with him. 

' ' Very well," Carroll replied. Then Lee followed up 
his remark, which had in a measure reassured him. 

"Got a cigar handy, captain?" said he. "I came off 
without one in my pocket." 

Carroll took out his cigar-case and extended it to 
Lee, who took a cigar, bit the end off, and scratched a 
match. Carroll handed the case mechanically to the 
postmaster and Drake, who were near. They refused, 
and he took one himself, as if he did not realize what 
he was doing, and lit it, his calm, impassively smiling 
face never changing. He might have been lighting a 
bomb instead of a cigar, for all the actual realization of 
the action which he had. He accepted a light from Lee, 
who had lit his first with trembling haste. At the first 
puff which he gave, at the first evidence of the fragrant 
aroma in the room, one turbulent spirit, which had 
hitherto remained under restraint, burst bounds and 
overwhelmed all besides. Even Minna Eddy, who was 
fast warming to a new outburst, even Madame Griggs, 
who had both hands pressed to her skinny throat be- 
cause of a lump of emotion there, and whose sunken 
temples were beating to the sight under the shade of her 
protuberant frizzes, looked in a hush of wonder and 
alarm at this furious champion of his own wrongs. 
Even the two butchers and the dry -goods merchant 
looked away from the glowing Oriental web upon which 
they stood. The weeping stenographer sat with her 

3 6 4 



THE DEBTOR 



damp little wad of lace-edged handkerchief in her hand 
and stared at him with her reddened eyes; the other 
held her flaccid purse, and looked at the speaker. Now 
and then she nudged violently the friend, who did not 
seem to notice it. 

Tappan, the milkman, arose to his feet. He had 
been sitting with a stiff sprawl in the corner of a small 
divan. He arose when the fragrance of that Havana 
cigar smote his nostrils like the odor of battle. He was 
in great boots stained with the red shale, for the roads 
outside Banbridge were heavy from a recent rain. He 
was collarless, his greasy coat hung loosely over his 
dingy flannel shirt. He was unshaven, and his face 
was at once grim and sardonic, bitter and raging. It 
was the face of an impotent revolutionist, who cursed 
his impotence, his lack of weapons, his wrong environ- 
ments for his fierce spirit. He belonged in a country 
at war. He had the misfortune to be in a country at 
peace. He belonged in a field of labor wherein weapons 
and armed men, sown by the need of justice, sprang 
from the soil. He was in a bucolic pasture, with no 
appeal. He was a striker with nothing save fate against 
which to strike. He raged behind prison-bars of circum- 
stance. Now, for once, was an enemy for his onslaught, 
although even here he was restricted. He was held in 
check by his ignoble need. He feared lest, in smiting 
with all the force at his command, the blow recoil upon 
himself. He feared lest he lose all where he might lose 
only part. But when he began to speak his caution 
left him. There was real fire in the grim, unshaven 
man; the honest fire of resentment against wrong, the 
spirit of self-defence against odds. He was big enough 
to disregard self-interest in his defence, and he was im- 
pressive. He sniffed as a preliminary to his speech, 
and there was in that sniff fury, sarcasm, and malignancy. 
Then he opened his mouth, and before the words came 

365 



THE DEBTOR 



a laugh or the travesty of one. There was something 
menacing in his laugh. Then he spoke. 

"Cigar!" he said. "Have a cigar? Will you have 
a cigar? Oh yes, a cigar." His voice was murder- 
ously low and soft. He even lisped slightly. "A 
cigar," he repeated. "A cigar. Oh, Lord! If men 
like me git a hand of chewing-tobacco once a month, 
they think they are damned lucky. Cigar, Lord!" 
Then the soft was out of his voice. He cut his words 
short, or rather he seemed to hammer them down into 
the consciousness of his auditors. He turned upon 
the others. " Want to know how that good-for-nothin' 
liar an' thief gits them cigars?" he shouted. "Want to 
know? Well, I'll tell you. I give 'em to him, an' 
you did. How many of you can smoke cigars like 
them, hey? Smell 'em. Ten or fifteen cents apiece; 
mebbe more. We give 'em to him. Yes, sir, that's 
jest what we did. He took the money he owed us for 
milk and meat and dress-makin' an' other things to buy 
them cigars. You got up early an' worked late to pay 
for 'em; he didn't. I got up at half-past three o'clock 
in the mornin' — half-past three in the winter, when he 
was asleep in his bed, damn him. The time will come 
when he won't sleep more than some other folks. I 
got up at half-past three o'clock, and I snatched a 
mouthful of breakfast, fried cakes and merlasses, that 
he'd 'a' turned up his nose at. He had beefsteak an* 
eggs at our expense, he did, an' I had a cup of damned 
weak coffee, cause I was too honest or too big a fool, 
whichever you call it, to buy any coffee I couldn't pay 
for. He'd 'a' turned up his nose at sech coffee. An' 
I went without sugar in it, an' I went without milk, 
so's to give it to him, so's he could git cigars. And as 
for cream, cream, cream! Lord! Couldn't git enough 
cream to give him. He was always yellin' for cream. 
Cream! My wife an' me would no more of thought 

366 



THE DEBTOR 



of our puttin' cream in our coffee than we'd thought 
of putting in five-dollar gold pieces to sweeten it. No, 
we saved the cream for him. My wife don't look so 
young and fat as his wife. His wife has been fed on 
our cream." Tappan looked hard at Anna Carroll, 
whom he evidently took for Carroll's wife. He took 
note of her dress. "My wife never had a silk gown," 
said he. "Lord! I guess she didn't! She had to git 
up as early as I did, an' wash milk-pans, so we could 
give milk to that man, an' he could save money on us 
to git his wife a silk gown. Lord! Jest look — " 

Then Madame Griggs spoke, her small, deprecatory 
snarl raised almost to hysterical pitch. She was catch- 
ing the infection of this bigger resentment and sense of 
outraged justice. 

"He didn't save money to git his wife that silk gown 
with your milk money," said she, "for I made that 
gown, an' I got the material, an' I 'ain't been paid a cent. 
That was one of the gowns I made when Ina was mar- 
ried. That silk cost a dollar and a quarter a yard. I 
could have got it at ninety -eight cents at a bargain, 
but that wa'n't good enough for her. He didn't take 
your milk money for that. He didn't take any money 
to pay anybody for anything he could run in debt for, 
I can tell you that. He must have paid somebody that 
wouldn't wait an' wouldn't be cheated." 

"Must have been dealin' with a trust, then," said one 
of the horsemen, with a loud laugh. "Guess he's been 
cheatin' 'most everything else." 

"And that lady ain't his wife, neither," said Madame 
Griggs to Tappan. "That's his sister. I made an- 
other gown for his wife, a lighter shade, an' I 'ain't been 
paid for that, neither." Suddenly she burst into a 
hysterical wail. "Oh, dear!" she sobbed. "Oh, dear! 
Here I've worked early an' late. Here I've got up in 
the mornin' before light an' worked till most dawn, an' 

367 



THE DEBTOR 



me none too strong, never was, and always havin' to 
scratch for myself, a poor, lone woman, an' here I am 
in debt, an' they sendin' out for the money; an' I've 
worked so hard to build up my business, an* tried to 
make things nice, an* please, an' here I've got to fail. 
Oh, dear!" Suddenly she made a weak rush across the 
room, her silk petticoat giving out a papery rustle, her 
frizzes vibrating like wire under her hat, crested with 
ostrich plumes. She danced up to Carroll and looked 
at him with indescribable piteousness of accusation. 
"Why couldn't you, if you had to cheat, cheat a man 
an' not a woman like me?" she demanded, in her high- 
pitched tremolo. 

Carroll took his cigar from his mouth and looked at 
her. His face was quite pale and rigid. Even Tappan 
stopped, watching the two. Madame Griggs held up, 
with almost a sublimity of accusation, her tiny, ner- 
vous, veinous hands. The fingers were long and the 
knuckles were slightly enlarged with strenuous pullings 
of needles and handling of scissors; the forefinger was 
calloused. "Look at my hands," said she. "See how 
thin they be. I've worked them 'most to the bone for 
your folks. I took a lot of pride in havin' your daughter 
look nice when she was married. If I was a man an' 
goin' to steal, I'd steal from somebody besides a wom- 
an with no more strength than I have, all alone in the 
world, and that's been knocked hard ever since she can 
remember." Then she brought a stiffly starched little 
handkerchief from the folds of a small purse, and she 
wept with a low, querulous wail like a baby. Standing 
before Carroll, "Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Oh — dear!" she 
wailed. 

Carroll laid a hand on her shaking shoulder. It felt 
to him like a vibrating bone, so meagre it was. He 
bent over her and said something that the others did not 
hear, but her wild rejoinder gave them the key. She 

368 



'look at my hands, said she. see how thin they 



THE DEBTOR 



was fairly desperate; all her obsequiousness had disap- 
peared. She was burning with her wrongs; she even 
took a certain pleasure in letting herself loose. She 
shook her shoulder free from his touch. She turned 
on him, her tearful, convulsed face uncovered, her 
frizzes tossing, as bold and unrestrained in her wrath 
as was Minna Eddy, who came forward to her side as 
she spoke. 

"You needn't come wheedlin' around me," she cried. 
"I don't believe a.word of it, not a word. "I'll believe 
it when I see the color of your cash. You're dreadful 
soft-spoken, an' so is your wife an* your sister an' your 
daughters. Dreadful soft-spoken! Plenty of soft soap 
runnin' all over every time you open your mouth. I 
don't want soft soap. Soft soap won't buy me bread 
an' butter, nor pay my debts. Folks won't take any 
soft soap from me instead of money. They want dol- 
lars an' cents, an' that's what I want every time, dol- 
lars an' cents, an' not soft soap. Yes, it's dollars an' 
— cents — and not so-ft soa-p." Suddenly the dress- 
maker, borne high on a wave of hysteria, disclosing the 
innate coarseness which underlay all her veneer of 
harmless gentility and fine manners, raised a loud, shrill 
laugh, ending in a multitude of reverberations like a 
bell. There was about this unnatural metallic laughter 
something fairly blood-curdling in its disclosure of over- 
strained emotion. She laughed and laughed, while the 
room was silent except for that, and every eye was fixed 
upon her. Poor, little Estella Griggs, of all that accus- 
ing company of Arthur Carroll's petty creditors, had 
the floor. She laughed and laughed. She threw back 
her head. Her plumed hat was tilted rakishly one side; 
her frizzes tossed high above her forehead, revealing the 
meagre temples; her skinny throat seemed to elongate 
above her ribboned collar; her thin cheeks, folded into 
a multitude of lines by her distorting mirth, glowed 

369 



THE DEBTOR 



with a hard red ; her eyes gleamed with a glassy brilliance. 
Then, suddenly, that long, skinny throat seemed to swell 
visibly. She choked and gurgled, then came a wild burst 
of sobbing. Hysteria had reached its second stage. It 
was frightful. 

''Good God!" said one of the horsemen, under his 
breath. 

"That's so," said the other. "Let's git out of this." 

They elbowed their way out of the room. "See you 
again," one of them said, curtly, to Carroll as he passed. 

"See you to-morrow about that little affair of ours, 
an* by G — , you've got to pony up, you can take your 
oath on that, an' don't you forget it," whispered the 
other in Carroll's ear, with a fierce emphasis, and yet 
he half grinned with a masculine sympathy in this ultra 
crisis. 

"It's gitting too thick," said the other horseman. 
"See you to-morrow, and, by G — , you've got to do 
somethin' or there'll be trouble." 

Carroll nodded. He was ashy white. He had strong 
nerves, but he was delicately organized, man though he 
was, and with unusual self-control. He felt now a set 
of sensations verging on those displayed by the laugh- 
ing, sobbing woman before him. He was conscious of 
an insane desire to join in that laugh, in those sobbing 
shrieks. His throat became constricted, his hands be- 
came as ice. The tragic absurdity of the situation filled 
him at once with a monstrous mirth and grief. The an- 
titheses of emotion struggled together within him. He 
looked at the little, frantic creature before him, and 
opened his mouth to speak, but he said nothing. Anna 
Carroll caught his elbow. 

"Come away, Arthur," she whispered. 

She was trembling herself, but she had been braced 
to something of this kind from being a woman herself, 
and was not so intimidated. Carroll strove to speak 

37o 



THE DEBTOR 



again. Minna Eddy suddenly joined in her torrent of 
vituperation with the dress - maker's. She caught up 
the soft-soap idea with a peal of laughter more sustained 
than that of Madame Griggs, for she had a better poise 
of mentality, and her wrath was un tempered with the 
grief and self-pity of a small, helpless woman who was 
fitted by nature for petting rather than for warfare. 

"Soft soap!" shouted Minna Eddy, while her small 
husband vainly clutched at her petticoats. "Soft soap! 
Lord! I makes my own soft soap. I has plenty to 
clean with. I don't want no soft soap. I want money." 
She laughed loud and long, a ringing, mocking peal. 
Madame Griggs's loud sobbing united with it. The dis- 
sonance of unnatural mirth and grief was ghastly. 

"Good God! Hear them!" whispered Sigsbee Ray 
to the druggist. 

"I'd rather owe fifty men than one woman," the 
druggist whispered back. 

Lee edged nearer the women and strove to speak. He 
had a purpose. 

Carroll, gazing at the women in a fascinated way, 
again opened his mouth in vain, and again Anna dragged 
backward at his arm. 

"For Heaven's sake, Arthur, come out of this," she 
whispered, and he yielded for the second. He let him- 
self be impelled to the door, then suddenly he recovered 
himself and stepped forward with an accession of dig- 
nity and authority which carried weight even in the 
face of hysterical unreason. He raised his hand and 
spoke, and there was a hush. Madame Griggs and 
Minna Eddy remained quiet, like petrified furies, re- 
garding the man's pale face of assertive will. 

"I beg you to be quiet a moment and listen to me," 
he said. " I can do nothing for any of you to-night, and, 
what is more, I will not do anything to-night. It is im- 
possible for me to deal with you in such an unexpected 

37i 



THE DEBTOR 



fashion as this, in such numbers. I have not gone into 
bankruptcy ; no meeting of my creditors had been called. 
I have and you have no legal representative here. Now 
I am going, and I advise you all to do likewise. I beg 
you to excuse me. I know you all, I know the amount 
of my indebtedness to you all, and I promise you all, 
if I live, the very last dollar I owe you shall be paid. 
You must, however, give me a little time, or nobody will 
get anything. I will communicate with you all later on. 
Nobody shall lose anything, I say. Now you must ex- 
cuse me. 

"Look at him; he's sick," whispered the pretty 
stenographer to the other, whose soft, little sob of re- 
sponse alone broke the hush as Carroll went out with 
his sister at his side. Their shadows moved across the 
room as they ascended the stairs in the hall. The credi- 
tors, left alone, regarded one another in a hesitating 
fashion. The two women, Minna Eddy and Estella 
Griggs, remained quiet. Presently the two butchers 
and the dry-goods merchant, standing about the Oriental 
rug, quite a fine Bokhara, resumed their whispered col- 
loquy regarding it, then they went out. Lee began 
talking to the druggist and the postmaster, with Willie 
Eddy at his elbow listening eagerly. 

"Carroll's sick," said Lee, with a curious effect of 
partisanship towards himself, as well as Carroll. "He's 
sick, and it is too bad. His nerves are a wreck." 

"Well, our nerves are becoming wrecks," the post- 
master rejoined, dryly. 

"That's so," said the druggist, with a worried look. 
" I don't know but I'll have to mortgage my stock. I've 
lost more than I can afford in that United Fuel." 

"I don't like to own up I've been bit," said the post- 
master, "but when it comes to being sick, and nerves 
being wrecks, there are others with full as much reason as 
Carroll." 

372 



THE DEBTOR 



" He'll pay up every cent," said Lee, eagerly. 

"Maybe he will pay his debts," said the postmaster. 
"I am not going to say he won't. I suppose he means 
to. But when it comes to making things good, when 
he has simply led you by the nose into disastrous specu- 
lations, I don't know. Bigger men than Arthur Carroll 
don't do it." 

"That's so," said Drew. "It's one thing to pay your 
butcher's bill in the long run, and be above stealing 
goods off the counter, but a man can cheat his fellow- 
men in a stock trade and think pretty well of himself, 
and other folks think well of him. 

"That's so," said Sigsbee Ray. 

"I haven't any doubt that he will arrange that," said 
Lee. "And, for that matter, the United Fuel may look 
up yet. I had a prospectus — " 

"Prospectus be damned!" said the postmaster. He 
seldom used an oath, and his tongue made a vicious 
lurch over it. 

The druggist gave an enormous sigh. "Well, it won't 
come up to-night, and I've left my little boy alone in 
the store," said he. "I've got to be going." 

"So have I," said the postmaster. "My wife is 
alone." 

"My wife always stands up for Carroll," said Lee, 
trotting nervously after the other men as they left the 
room. "Says she guesses he will end up by paying his 
bills as well as other men that are blaming him." 

"Hope to God he will," said the postmaster. 

The clerk and the two stenographers from Carroll's 
office had been having their heads together over a time- 
table. They also slipped out after the three men. The 
elder one still sniffled softly in her handkerchief. 

The young man looked around at the stair up which 
Carroll had disappeared, and winked as he went out. 
There were left Carroll's coachman, the Hungarian girl, 

373 



THE DEBTOR 



Madame Estella Griggs, Willy Eddy, and his wife. The 
coachman heard a noise of pounding in the stable and 
ran out. Marie remained in the doorway looking at 
the others with her piteous red eyes; Minna Eddy ad- 
vanced towards her. 

"They owe you your wages, don't they?" said she, 
with no sympathy, but rather a menace. 

Little Marie shrank back. "Vis," said she, pursing 
her lips. 

"You're a fool!" said Minna Eddy. 
Marie smiled feebly at her. 

Minna Eddy stood glaring around the room. Her 
husband was at her elbow, watching her anxiously. 

"Come home now, Minna," he pleaded. 

But she stamped her foot suddenly. "I ain't goin' 
to stand it!" she declared. "I'm goin' to take what I 
can get, I be." Her eyes rested first upon one thing, 
then another, then she looked hard at the Oriental rug, 
which the three tradesmen had discussed. Then she 
swooped upon it and began gathering it up from the 
floor. 

"Oh, Minna! Oh, Minna!" gasped little Willy Eddy. 

"You lemme be," she said, fiercely. "I see'd them 
men lookin' at this. It ain't handsome, but it's worth 
good money. I heard something they said. I ain't 
goin' to lose all that money. I'm goin' to take what I 
can git, I be." 

"Minna, you — " 

" Lemme be." 

"It ain't accordin' to law, Minna." 

"What do you s'pose I care about the law?" She 
turned to Estella Griggs, who was watching her eagerly, 
with a gathering light of fierce greed in her eyes. "If 
you take my advice you'll help yourself to something 
while you have the chance," said she. 

"Oh, Minna, it's stealin'! You'll be liable—" 
374 



THE DEBTOR 



''Liable to nothin'. StealinM If folks don't steal 
no more 'n I do, I'll risk 'em. I'm a-takin' my lawful 
pay, I be. If you take my advice, you'll take some- 
thin', too." 

Minna Eddy moved from the room with the rug gath- 
ered up in a roll in her arms, but Marie had been grad- 
ually recovering herself. Now she came forward. 

"You must not take that; that iss not your rug," 
said she. "You must not take that." 

"Git out," said Minna Eddy. She thrust at the 
Hungarian with her rug-laden arms, but the little peas- 
ant was as strong as she. Marie caught hold of the 
rug and pulled; Minna also pulled. 

"You lemme go," said Minna, with a vicious voice, 
but lowered, for obvious reason. 

"You must not take that," said Marie. She was, 
however, rather fainter-hearted than the other woman. 

Minna suddenly got the mastery. The Hungarian 
almost tumbled backward. Minna, with the rug, was 
out of the room, her trembling, almost whimpering hus- 
band at her heels. Madame Griggs looked at Marie. 
Her distorted face was at once greedy, anguished, and 
cunning. She began to gasp softly. 

"Oh! Oh!" said she. "Oh!" 

Marie regarded her in wondering agitation. 

"Water! water! quick! Oh, get some water!" moaned 
Madame Griggs. "I am faint! Water!" She sank 
into a chair, her head fell back. She rolled her eyes at 
the terrified girl; she gasped feebly between her parted 
lips. 

Marie ran. Then up rose Madame Estella Griggs. 
She swept the tea-table of its little Dresden service and 
some small, silver spoons. She gathered them up in a 
little, lace-trimmed table-cover, and she fled with that 
booty and a sofa -pillow which she caught from the 
divan on her way out. 

25 375 



THE DEBTOR 

When Marie returned she stood gaping with the glass 
of water. She was not over-shrewd, but she took in at 
once the situation. She understood that the second 
lady had fled like the first, with the teacups, the spoons, 
the table-cover, and the sofa-pillow. She stood looking 
desolately around the room, and her simple heart tasted 
its own bitterness. 



CHAPTER XXX 



Charlotte had followed her father and aunt tip- 
stairs that night, starting up softly like a shadow from 
her place in the hall. She went silently behind them 
until they reached the open door of Anna's room; then 
her father turned and saw her. 

"You here, Charlotte?" he said. 

"Yes, papa," replied Charlotte, turning a pitiful but 
altogether stanch little face up to his. 

He put his arm around her, drew her head against his 
shoulder, tipped up her face, and kissed her. "Go to 
bed now, darling," he whispered. 

"Papa, I can't; I—" 

"There is nothing you can do, sweetheart; there is 
nothing for you to worry about. Papa will take care 
of you always, whatever happens. Go to bed now, and 
go to sleep, honey." 

"But, papa, I can't sleep. Let me stay and — " 

"No, dear. There is nothing you can do. It will 
only worry me to have you stay. Go to bed, and put all 
this out of your mind. It will all come right in the end." 

Carroll kissed Charlotte again, and put her gently 
from him, and she disappeared in her own room with a 
suppressed sob. 

"I am glad Ina is out of the way," Anna said, but 
with no bitterness. 

"So am I," Carroll agreed, simply. 

"I wish Charlotte had as good a man to look out for 
her," said Anna. 

377 



THE DEBTOR 



Carroll straightened himself with quick pride. "I 
shall look out for her," he said. "You need not think 
I am quite out of the running yet, when it comes to look- 
ing out for my own flesh and blood." 

"No, of course you are not, Arthur. I did not mean 
to imply any such thing," Anna rejoined, hastily. "I 
was only — Come into my room. Amy is fast asleep 
by this time, and if she is not she has a headache, and 
you might as well try to consult with an infant in arms 
as Amy with a headache. And something has to be 
done." 

"Yes, you are right, Anna," Carroll replied, with a 
heavy sigh. 

"Those people will all go when they get tired of wait- 
ing. There is no use in our bothering with them any 
more to-night. Come in." 

Anna led the way into her room, and closed the door. 
A lamp burned dimly on the dresser amid a confusion 
of laces and ribbons. The whole room looked in a soft 
foam of dainty disorder. Anna did not turn the light 
up. She stood looking at her brother in the half-light, 
and her face was at once angry and tender. 

"Well?" said she, with a sigh of desperate inquiry. 

"Well?" rejoined Carroll. 

"What next?" 

"The Lord knows!" 

"Something has to be done. We are up against a 
dead wall again. And for some reason it strikes me as 
a deader wall than ever before." 

Carroll nodded. 

"We cannot stay in Banbridge any longer?" Anna 
said, interrogatively. 

"We may have to," Carroll replied, curtly. 
" You mean ?" 

"There may be a little difficulty about getting out. 
We could not leave the State, anyhow, and — " 

378 



THE DEBTOR 



"And what? We can go somewhere else in the State, 
I suppose. I am not particularly in love with this sec- 
tion of the union, but it all makes little difference after 
one reaches a certain point. " 

"Poor old girl!" said Carroll. 

Anna looked at him, and her eyes suffused and her 
mouth quivered. Then she smiled her usual smile of 
mocking courage, even bravado. "Oh, well," said she, 
"I have faced the situation and chewed my cud of ex- 
perience for a good many years now, and I am used to 
it. I may even end up by tasting the sweet in the 
bitter." 

"You had as hard an experience in another line as 
I had. I don't know but it was harder." 

"No harder, I reckon," Anna replied, almost indiffer- 
ently. "It was the same thing — the doll stuffed with 
sawdust, and all that; you with a friend, and I with a 
lover. Well, it is all over now." 

" It isn't ; that is the worst of it," Carroll said, gloomily. 

"I don't see why." 

"A sequence is never over. There is even all eternity 
for it." 

"Well, the first of the sequence is over, anyhow. 
All we have to consider is the succeeding stages." 
"That is about enough." 

Anna laughed. "I agree with you there, dear. Well, 
I suppose the stage of the sequence for immediate con- 
sideration is the feasibility of emerging into the next 
stage. You think it is likely to be more difficult for 
the wandering tribe of Carroll to make their exodus 
with grace and dignity than usual?" 

"It rather looks that way now." 

"I suppose that promoting business, that business 
transacted in the New York office, got you into rather 
hotter waters than usual." 

Carroll nodded. 

379 



THE DEBTOR 



"There was an office, I suppose." 

Carroll nodded again, laughing a little. Anna laughed 
too. "One never knows," said she. "I suppose that 
was a delegation from the office, to-night, the two pretty- 
girls and the winking young man." 

"Yes," said Carroll. 

Anna had flung herself into an easy-chair beside him. 
Carroll remained standing. She leaned her head back 
and crossed her hands behind her neck in a way she 
had. She was a thing of lithe grace in her soft red silk. 
The dim light obliterated all the worn lines in her face. 
Carroll regarded her even in the midst of the distressful 
stress of affairs with a look of admiration. It was an 
absent-minded regard, very much as a mourner might 
notice a stained-glass window in a church while a funeral 
was in progress. It was the side-light of grace on 
affliction involuntarily comprehended, from long train- 
ing, by the exterior faculties. Carroll even said, half 
perfunctorily: 

"You look well to-night. That red gown suits you, 
honey." 

"The gown that that poor little beggar of a dress- 
maker is not paid for," said Anna. 

Carroll frowned. "I did not have enough for that," 
he said. "It was impossible. I paid the other bills." 

"All dressmakers have to be cheated," said Anna. 
"I never knew one that wasn't. I may as well reap 
the benefit of a universal law of cause and result, as 
some other woman." Her voice rang hard, but she 
looked up affectionately at her brother. Suddenly she 
reached out her hand, caught his, and kissed it. "There 
is one thing we Carrolls pay in full, and never run in 
debt for, and that is our affection for and belief in one 
another," said she. " We have our hearts full of one 
coin, anyway." 

" I suppose the world at large would prefer our pock- 
380 



THE DEBTOR 



ets full of the coin of the realm,' ' answered Carroll, but he 
looked fondly down at his sister. 

"I suppose so. If I had not worn this dress, I should 
send it back to that dressmaker." 

"But you have worn it." 

"Oh yes. Of course it is out of the question now. 
It is very pretty. Well, Arthur, if we go back far 
enough we are not responsible for this dress. We are 
responsible for none of the disasters which follow in our 
wake. That man down in Kentucky precipitated the 
whole thing. Arthur, you do look like a fiend when- 
ever I mention that man!" 

"I feel like one," Carroll replied, coolly. 

"Well, that man was directly responsible for the 
whole wreck — the general wreck, I mean. My own 
wreck is an individual matter, and, after all, I never 
fairly lowered my sails for that especial gale. I never 
will own to it." 

"You were a brave girl, Anna." 

"But the other wreck, the whole wreck, that man of 
yours is responsible for. And we were not half a bad 
lot, Arthur." 

"Maybe not; but when the ship breaks up, it does 
not make so much difference what the timbers were, 
nor how she was built." 

"I suppose you are right. Well, what is to be done 
with the old masts and sails and things?" 

44 1 know what is to be done with a part of it." 

4 4 What part of it?" 

" Well, to depart from similes, the female contingency." 
"The female contingency?" 

"Yes, and the juvenile. You and Amy and Char- 
lotte and Eddy." 

"What do you mean, Arthur?" 

"You are going down to Kentucky to the old place, 
to spend the winter with Aunt Catherine," 

381 



THE DEBTOR 



"Aunt Catherine wrote you?" 

"Yes." 

"When?" 

"I got the letter day before yesterday/' 
"She invited us?" 
"Yes, honey." 
"Not you?" 

"There was no reason why she should invite me." 

"Aunt Catherine never had any feeling for you." 

"Perhaps she has had as much as I deserve. You 
know I have, to put it frankly, rather broken the record 
of an honorable family for — " 

"For what?" 

"For honor, dear." 

Then Anna broke out, passionately. "I don't care! 
I don't care!" she cried. "I don't care what she thinks; 
I don't care what anybody thinks! I don't care what 
you do or don't do, you are the best man that ever 
lived, Arthur." She began to weep suddenly, feeling 
blindly for her handkerchief. 

Carroll pulled her head against his shoulder. " Dear," 
he whispered, dcn't; you must not, darling, you are worn 
out. You are not well." 

"Arthur, are you sure — are you sure that you have 
not rendered yourself liable ? Arthur, are you sure that 
they cannot arrest you for anything you have done 
this time?" 

"Quite sure, Anna." 

"You have looked out for that?" 

"Yes." 

"They can't arrest you?" 

"No. Anna, you are nervous." 

" Martin was impudent yesterday, when you were out, 
about his pay. He talked about going to a lawyer." 

Carroll made an impatient movement. "If he does 
not stop coming to you about it — " 

382 



THE DEBTOR 



"He is afraid of you. Then Marie came and cried. 
She says she has lost her lover, because she did not have 
decent clothes to wear." 

"Anna, they shall not trouble you again. Don't, 
dear. Why, I never knew you to fret so before!" 

"I never did. I never minded it all so much before. 
I think I am ill. There is a dull pain all the time in the 
back of my neck, and I do not sleep at all well. Then 
my mental attitude seems suddenly to have changed. 
I was capable of defiance always, of seeing the humor 
in the situation, even if it was such an oft-repeated joke, 
and such a mighty poor one; but now, even if I start 
with a glimpse of the funny side of it, suddenly I col- 
lapse, and all at once I am beaten." 

Carroll stroked her graceful, dark head. "There is 
nothing for it but you must go, honey." 

" Arthur, I will not. It may be better for the others, 
but as for me, I will not." 

"Yes, you will, Anna, honey." 

"Arthur Carroll!" 

"You must, dear. Frankly, Anna, you know how 
I shall feel about parting with you all, but it will be a 
load off my mind. If a man is not able to care for his 
own, it is better for him and for them that they should 
go where they will be cared for." 

" You need not speak in that way, Arthur. You have 
done all you could. All this would never have been if 
it had not been for us, and your wanting us to have 
everything. We have been a helpless lot. None of 
us have ever blamed you or complained, not even Amy, 
baby as she is." 

"I know it, dear, but it is better for you all to go." 

"You have done all you could, always," Anna re- 
peated, in a curious, sullen fashion. 

"Well, we will leave that. If Aunt Catherine takes 
you all this winter, it will go hard if I do not pay her in 

383 



THE DEBTOR 



some way later on; but the point is now, you must all 

go- 
Anna shook her head obstinately. 
Carroll bent down and kissed her. " Good-night, dear," 
he said. "Try to sleep." 

"I wonder if those people are all gone." 
" Yes, I think so. I heard Marie lock the door. Good- 
night." 

Anna rose and threw her arms around her brother's 
neck. " Whatever happens, you have got your old 
sister left," she said, with a soft sob. 

"Nobody is going to attach her for my debts," Car- 
roll said, laughing, but stroking her head fondly. 

"No, she is not an available asset. I never will go, 
Arthur. The others may do as they think best. I will 
not go." 

"Not to-night, Anna, honey," Carroll said, as he went 
out of the room. 

Anna Carroll, left alone, rose languidly, unfastened 
her red silk gown, and let it fall in a rustling circle around 
her. She let down her soft, misty lengths of hair, in 
which was a slight shimmer of white, and brushed it. 
Standing before her dresser, using her ivory - backed 
brush with long, even strokes, her reflected face showed 
absolutely devoid of radiance. The light was out of it 
— the light of youth, and, more than the light of youth, 
the light of that which survives youth, even the soul 
itself. And yet there was in this face, so unexpectant 
and quiescent that it gave almost the effect of dulness, 
a great strength and charm w T hich were the result of an 
enduring grace of attitude towards all the stresses of 
life. Anna Carroll carried about with her always, not 
for the furbishing of her hair nor the embellishment of 
her complexion, but for the maintenance of the grace 
and dignity of her bearing towards a hard and inscrutable 
fate, a species of mental looking-glass. She never for 

384 



THE DEBTOR 



a minute lost sight of herself as reflected in it. She had 
not been a happy woman, but she had worn her unhap- 
piness like a robe of state. She had had a most miser- 
able love-affair in her late youth, but no one except her 
brother could have affirmed with any certainty that it 
had occasioned her a moment's pang. 

She was hopeless as regarded any happiness for her- 
self in a strictly personal sense. She knew that her 
destiny as a woman had been unfulfilled, but she would 
rather have killed herself than pitied herself. She was 
as hard to herself and her own possible weakness as she 
was to anybody on earth, possibly harder. She cheated 
the dressmaker, she ate at the expense of others, as she 
would have cheated herself had she known how. It 
did not occur to her to go without anything which she 
could by any means get; not because she wanted it so 
keenly, as from another phase of the same feeling which 
had led Minna Eddy to appropriate the rug, and Estella 
Griggs the paraphernalia of the tea-table and the sofa- 
pillow. She had herself been duped in a larger sense; 
she was a creditor of Providence. She considered that 
she had a right to her hard wages of mere existence, 
when they came in her way, were they in the form of 
red silk gowns or anything else. She would admit no 
wrong in her brother, for the same reason, reserving 
only the right to condemn him at times on the boy's 
account. She began thinking about the boy as she 
went on with her preparations for bed. Her face lit 
up a little as she reflected upon the benefit it might be 
to Eddy to be in Kentucky. She thought of the dire 
possibility of serious complications for Arthur in this 
culminating crisis of his affairs. 

"Better for the child to be out of it," she said to her- 
self, and that singular anger with Arthur for the sake of 
the boy, which was like anger with him for his own sake, 
came over her. She identified the two. She saw in 

3§s 



THE DEBTOR 



Eddy the epitome of his father, the inheritor of his 
virtues and faults, and his retribution, his heir-at-large 
by the inscrutable and merciless law of heredity. "Yes, 
it is better for Eddy to be out of it," she repeated to 
herself, with the same reasoning that she might have 
used had she been proposing to separate her brother's 
better self from his worse. But she resolved more firm- 
ly that she would not go herself. She would urge the 
others' going, but she would remain. 



CHAPTER XXXI 



But in spite of Anna Carroll's resolve, she went to 
Kentucky with the others in two weeks' time. She had 
had quite a severe attack of illness after that night, and 
it had left her so weakened in body that she had not 
strength to stand against her brother's urging. Then, 
too, Mrs. Carroll had displayed an unexpected reluctance 
to leave. She had evinced a totally new phase of her 
character, as people who are unconquerable children al- 
ways will when least expected to do so. Instead of 
clinging to her husband and declaring that she could 
not leave, with an underlying submission at hand, she 
straightened herself and said positively that she would 
not go. She was quite pale, her sweet face looked as 
firm as her husband's. 

" I am not going to leave you, Arthur," she said. " If 
your sister stays with you, your wife can. Your sister 
can go, and take Eddy, but your wife stays. I don't 
care what happens. I don't care if Marie and Martin 
do go. Marie is not cooking so well lately, anyway, 
and I never did like the way Martin went around cor- 
ners. We can get new servants I shall like much better. 
I shall go into the City myself next week to the intelli- 
gence office. I am not afraid to go. I don't like to 
cross Broadway, but I can take a cab from the station. 
I will sit there in a row all day with those other women, 
until I get a good maid, if it is necessary. I don't care 
in the least if Marie and Martin do go. You can get 
another man who will turn the corners more carefully. 

387 



• 



THE DEBTOR 

And I don't mind because somebody took that rug — 
somebody — who was not paid. I think it was a very 
rude thing to do. I think when you take things that 
way it is no better than burglary, but I should not make 
any fuss about it. Let the woman have the rug. Al- 
though it does seem as if anybody had the rug, it ought 
to be that man we bought it of in Hillfield. You know 
he did not seem to like it at all, because he was not paid 
for it. But maybe he did not come by it honestly him- 
self. He was a singular - looking man — a Syrian or 
Armenian or a Turk, and one never knows about peo- 
ple like that. I don't mind in the least; it is all right. 
And I don't care about the teacups and things. One 
of the cups was nicked, and I really like Sevres much 
better than Dresden. I should have got Sevres when 
I bought them, only the man who had the Sevres I 
wanted would not give us credit. We had no charge 
account there. I don't mind in the least; but I think 
that dressmaker was very impolite to take the things, 
because, of course, we shall never feel that we can con- 
scientiously give her any more of our custom; and we 
have given her a great deal of work, with dear Ina's wed- 
ding and everything, more than anybody in Banbridge. 
No, I don't mind in the least about these things. I can 
rise above that when it is a question of my husband. 
And when you talk of having to leave Banbridge, that 
does not daunt me at all. On the whole, I would rather 
leave Banbridge. I should like to live a little nearer the 
City, and I should like more grounds, and a house with 
more conveniences. For one thing, we have no butler's 
pantry here, and that is really a great inconvenience. 
Take it altogether, the house, and the distance from 
Xew York, I shall not be at all sorry to move. And" 
(Mrs. Carroll's sweet face looked hard and set, her gen- 
tly pouting mouth widened into a straight line; she had 
that uncannv expression of docile and yielding people 

388 



THE DEBTOR 



when they assume a firm attitude), "I shall not go 
away and leave you, Arthur," she repeated; "Anna shall 
not stay here with you and I go to Aunt Catherine's. 
If any one stays, I stay. I am your wife, and I am 
the one to stay. I know my duty." 

"Amy, dear," said Carroll, "it will really make me 
happier to know that you are more comfortable and 
happy than I can make you this winter." 

"I shall not be comfortable and happy," said she. 
"No, Arthur, you need not pet me; I am quite in ear- 
nest. You treat me always as if I were a child. You 
do, and all the rest, even my own children. And I think 
myself that two-thirds of me is a child, but one-third 
is not, and now it is the one-third that is talking, and 
quite seriously. It is I who am going to stay with you, 
and not Anna." 

"Anna is not going to stay either, sweetheart," 
Carroll said. 

A quick change came over Mrs. Carroll's face. She 
looked inquiringly at her sister-in-law. "Anna said she 
would not go," she said. 

"She has thought better of it," Carroll said, quietly. 

"Yes, Amy, I am going," Anna said, wearily, "and 
I don't think you had better decide positively to-night 
whether you will go or not. Leave it until to-morrow." 

"But how could you get along without anybody to 
keep house for you all winter, Arthur?" asked Mrs. 
Carroll. 

"As thousands of men get along," Carroll replied. " I 
can take my meals at the inn, and somebody could be 
got to come by the day and see to the furnace and the 
house." 

"I suppose somebody could," Mrs. Carroll agreed, a 
frown of reflection on her smooth forehead. 

She wept piteously when it came to parting, two 
weeks later, but she went. 

389 



THE DEBTOR 



They all started early in the morning. Carroll ac- 
companied them to the station, and was well aware 
of an unusual number of persons being present to see 
the train start. He knew the reason: a rumor had got- 
ten about that he as well as his family was to leave 
Banbridge and the State. He knew that if he had made 
a motion to get on the train, there might have been a 
scene, and he bade his family good-bye on the platform, 
before his covert audience of creditors. Lee was there, 
ostentatiously shaking hands with the ladies, but secret- 
ly watchful. Tappan was surlily attentive, leaving his 
milk-wagon tied in front of the station. Minna Eddy 
and Willy had driven down in their wagon from their 
little farm. Four children were huddled in behind. 
Minna had gotten out and stood on the platform. Willy 
sat on the seat holding the baby and the reins. There 
had been a thaw; the roads outside were heavy, and 
their old mule was harnessed up with their old horse. 
Willy had been somewhat afraid to come. 

" Suppose he should make a fuss about that," he 
said, pointing to the Bokhara rug which adorned their 
little sitting-room. 

"I ain't afraid of his making any fuss about that 
old mat," said Minna; "I guess he knows what he's 
about. It's him that's afraid, an' not me. An old 
mat that's worth about fifty cents! It ain't half so 
pretty as one that Frank Olsen's wife got in New Sander- 
son for four dollars and ninety-eight cents. I'm goin' 
to have some more of them things, an' he ain't goin' 
to git out of Banbridge, if I have to hang on to his coat- 
tails. You lemme go, Willy Eddy." 

Therefore they came, starting before daylight in the 
frosty morning. Carroll was conscious of them all, of 
the druggist and the postmaster; of the two horsemen 
with whom he had had a half-settlement, and who were 
now about to force the remainder; of the two butchers 

390 

$ 



THE DEBTOR 

and the dry-goods merchant, who had been exceeding- 
ly nasty about the rug, and persisted in thinking that 
the Carrolls were responsible for its disappearance. 
They had now other chattels- in view, and were only 
delayed from taking prompt measures by the uncer- 
tainty as to what belonged to Carroll, or to his wife, or 
to the owner of the house. There was also lurking 
around the corner of the station, but quite ready for 
immediate action should it be necessary, another man, 
who represented the arm of the local law. There was 
also Madame Estelle Griggs, and, curiously enough, 
the sight of that little, meagre-bedecked figure and that 
small, rasped, piteous face of nervous suspicion affected 
Carroll more forcibly than did any of the others. He 
was conscious of a sensation of actual fear as he caught 
sight of the waving plume, of the wiry frizzes, of the 
sharp, frost-reddened face, of those watchful, unhappy 
eyes. He realized that if she should make a scene there, 
if he should hear again that laugh and those wailing 
sobs, he could not answer for what he might do. There 
even flashed across his mind a mental picture of the 
on-rush of the train, and of a man hurling himself be- 
fore it, to get for once and all out of sight and sound 
of the unspeakable, grotesque, unmanning shame of 
the thing. It was when he saw her that he resolved 
that he would not put his foot on the train, lest she 
might think he meant to go. However, she would 
probably have made no manifestation. She was her- 
self in mortal terror of retribution because of the things 
which she had confiscated in payment of her debt. 
She had little of Minna Eddy's strength of confidence in 
her own proceedings. She had, however, consoled her- 
self by the reflection that possibly nobody knew that 
she had taken them. She had hidden them away under 
her mattress, and slept uneasily on the edge of the bed, 
lest she break the cups and saucers. If it had not been 
26 391 



THE DEBTOR 

so early in the morning, presumably too early for vis- 
itors from the City, she would not have dared show her- 
self at the station. In these days she sewed behind 
closed doors, with her curtains down. She went to her 
customer's houses for tryings-on, instead of having her 
patrons come to her. She was always ready, working 
with her eyes at the parting of the curtains, to flee 
down a certain pair of outside back - stairs, and cut 
across the fields, should men be sent out from the City 
to collect money. Rosenstein's store was under her 
little apartment, and she knew she could trust him not 
to betray her. The dressmaker was in these days fairly 
tragic in appearance, with a small and undignified, but 
none the less real, tragedy. It was the despair of a 
small nature over small issues, but none the less de- 
spair. Carroll would have paid that bill first of all, 
had he had the money, but none but himself knew how 
little money he had. Had the aunt in Kentucky not 
sent the wherewithal for the railway fares, it was hard 
to be seen how the journey could have been taken at all. 
It had even occurred to Carroll that some jewelry must 
needs be sacrificed. He had made up his mind, in that 
case, that Anna would be the one to make the sacrifice. 
She had an old set of cameos from her grandmother, 
which he knew were valuable if taken to the right place. 
Anna had considered the matter, and would have spared 
him the suggestion had not the check come from the 
aunt to cover all the expenses of the trip, with even 
some to spare. With the extra, Mrs. Carroll insisted 
upon buying a new hat for Charlotte. Charlotte that 
morning showed little emotion. She was looking ex- 
ceedingly pretty in the new hat and her little, blue 
travelling-gown. Madame Griggs eyed that and re- 
flected that she had not made it herself, that it must 
have been a last winter's one, although it had kept well 
in style, and she wondered if the dressmaker who made 

392 



THE DEBTOR 



it had been paid. Charlotte in parting from her father 
showed no emotion. He kissed her, and she turned 
away directly and entered the train. There was an odd 
expression on her face. She had not spoken a word all 
the morning except to whisper to Eddy to be still, when 
he remarked, loudly, on the number of people present at 
the station. 

"All this crowd isn't going, is it?" he demanded. 

"Hush!" Charlotte whispered, peremptorily, and he 
looked curiously at her. 

" What is the matter with you this morning, anyhow ?" 
he inquired, loudly. Eddy had in a leash a small and 
violently squirming puppy, which had lately strayed to 
the Carroll place, and been found wagging and whining 
ingratiatingly around the stable. Eddy had adopted 
it, and even meditated riding in the baggage-car to re- 
lieve its loneliness should the conductor prove intrac- 
table concerning its remaining in the passenger-coach. 
Eddy, of the whole party of travellers, was the only one 
who presented an absolutely undisturbed and joyously 
expectant countenance. He had the innocent selfish- 
ness of childhood. He could still be single-eyed as to 
the future, and yet blameless. He loved his father, 
but had no pangs at parting, when the wonders of the 
journey and the new country were before him. His 
heart also delighted in the puppy, leaping and abortive- 
ly barking at his side. He kissed his father good-bye as 
the train approached, and was following the others, with 
the little dog straining at his leash, when his onward 
progress was suddenly arrested, another grimy little 
hand tugged at the leash. 

"Say, what you goin' off with my dog for?" de- 
manded the owner of the hand, another boy, somewhat 
older than Eddy, and one of his schoolmates. 

Eddy, belligerent at once, faced about. He caught 
up the wriggling puppy with such a quick motion that 

393 



THE DEBTOR 



he was successful and wrenched the other boy's hand 
from the leash. 

" It isn't your dog. It's my dog. What you talking 
about?" he growled back. 

"You lie!" 

"Lie yourself!" 

"Gimme that dog!" 

"It's my dog!" 

"Where'd ye git it?" sneered the other, making 
clutches at the puppy. 

"My papa bought him for me in New York." 

"Hm! All the way your father could git a dog like 
that is to steal him. Your father 'ain't got no money. 
You stole him. You steal jest like your father. Gim- 
me the dog." 

The claimant boy laid such insistent hands on the 
puppy, and Eddy so resisted, that the little animal 
yelped loudly. 

Carroll stepped up. His lips were ashy. This last 
idiotic episode was unnerving him more than all that 
had gone before. "Give that boy his dog," he com- 
manded Eddy, sternly. 

Eddy clung more tightly to the little dog, and began 
to whimper. "But, papa — " 

"Do as I tell you." 

" He came to our stable, and he didn't have any collar 
on, and a dog without any collar on — " 
"Do as I tell you." 

But Eddy had found an unexpected ally. Anderson 
had come on the platform as the train approached. He 
was going on business to New Sanderson, and he had 
furtively collared the owner of the puppy, thrust some- 
thing into his hand, whispered something, and given him 
a violent push. The boy fled. When Carroll turned, the 
boy who had been imperiously aggressive at his elbow 
was nowhere to be seen. Several of the by-standers were 

394 



THE DEBTOR 



grinning. Anderson was moving along to be at the side 
of his car, as the train approached. It had all happened 
in a very few seconds. Eddy clung fast to the puppy. 
There was no time for anything, and the female Carrolls 
were pressing softly about for the last words. 

" I don't think the puppy belonged to that boy," Mrs. 
Carroll said. "He was just a little, stray dog." 

She had seen nothing of what Anderson had done, 
and neither had the others. There was manifestly noth- 
ing more to be done. It was an absurdity for Carroll 
to load himself up with that squirming puppy, when 
the ownership seemed so problematic. He bade them 
all good - bye again, and they got on the train. The 
women's pretty, wistfully smiling faces appeared at 
windows, also Eddy's, and the innocently wondering 
visage of the puppy. Anderson was in the smoking- 
car. As the train passed, Carroll saw his face at a % win- 
dow, and bowed, raising his. hat half - mechanically . 
Anderson was conscious of a distinct sensation of pity 
for him, the more so that he was helpless and rebellious- 
ly depressed himself. He meditated upon the advisabil- 
ity of going into the other car, the Pullman, before the 
arrival of the train at New Sanderson, and bidding Char- 
lotte farewell. He finally decided not to do so. He had 
no reason to think that she would care especially to have 
him, and while his self - respect, in spite of his perfect 
cognizance of the disadvantages of his position, was suf- 
ficient not to make him hesitate on that account, he had 
had a feeling against intruding upon the possible sadness 
of the ladies when making what they must recognize as 
a forced exit from their home under humiliating circum- 
stances. It did not occur to him that they might possi- 
bly not feel so. 

Carroll, left on the platform while the train steamed 
out of sight, in its backward trail of smoke full of rain- 
bow lights in the frosty air, turned to go home. He was 

395 



THE DEBTOR 



going to walk. Martin had driven the family to the sta- 
tion, and had himself gotten on the rear car of the train. 
He was about seeking employment in New Sanderson. 
One of the horsemen had driven off with the rig; the 
other was waiting for a word with Carroll. The discus- 
sion was short, heated, and profane on one side; calm, 
low, and imperturbable on the other. 

" You'll have it in the end," Carroll said, as he turned 
to go. 

"The end has got to come pretty darned quick," the 
other retorted, jumping into his little trotting-gig and 
spinning off. 

The others of the crowd had melted away rather quick- 
ly. Minna Eddy had clambered into the wagon and 
gathered up the reins, while her husband retained the 
wailing baby. In truth, in spite of her bravado, she had 
some little doubts as to the wisdom of her confiscation of 
the rug. Madame Griggs, actuated by a similar doubt, 
also fluttered away swiftly down the street. The men 
also, upon making sure that Carroll was not intending 
to abscond, retreated. Carroll was quite alone when the 
horseman spun away in his gig, with its swift spokes 
flashing in blinding rings of light as he disappeared around 
the curve. It was one of those mornings in the fall when 
the air is so clear that the sunlight seems intensified. 
There had been a hard frost the night before, and a deli- 
cate rime was still over the ground, only melting in the 
sunniest spots. Only the oak leaves, a brownish -red 
shag mostly on the lower branches, were left on the trees. 
The door-yards were full of dried chrysanthemums, the 
windows gay with green-house plants. The air was full 
of the smell of smoke and coffee and frying things, for it 
was Banbridge's breakfast-hour. Men met Carroll on 
their way to the next train to the City, walking briskly 
with shoulders slightly shrugged before the keett wind. 
They bowed to him with a certain reserve. He met 

396 



THE DEBTOR 

one young girl carrying a music-roll, who wore on her 
face an expression of joy so extreme that it gave the 
effect of a light. Carroll noticed it absently, this alien 
joy with which he had no concern. As the girl passed 
him, he perceived a strong odor of violet from her 
dainty attire, and it directly, although he was unaware 
of the connection, caused him to remember the episode 
of his discovering the two women, Mrs. Van Dorn and 
Mrs. Lee, spying out the secrets in his house. That 
same odor had smote his nostrils when he entered the 
door. He reviewed from that starting-point the suc- 
ceeding stages of his stay in Banbridge, the whole mis- 
erable, ignominious descent from a fictitious prosperity 
to plain, evident disgrace and want. He was returning 
to his desolate house. Martin had gone, wretchedly 
and plainly incredulous of Carroll's promise to finally 
pay him every cent he owed him. Marie had packed 
her box, and tied two gay foreign handkerchiefs into 
bags to contain her ragged possessions. He was to be 
entirely alone. He could remain in the house prob- 
ably only for a short time, until the owner should find 
a new tenant. He walked along with his head up, re- 
taining his old stately carriage. As he turned the street 
corner on which his house stood, he saw a figure ad- 
vancing, and his heart stood still. He thought he 
recognized Charlotte, incredible although it was, since 
he had just seen her depart on the train. But surely 
that was Charlotte approaching, although she carried 
strange parcels. The girl was just her height, she even 
seemed to walk like her, and she surely wore a dress of 
which Charlotte was very fond. It was of a dusky red 
color, the skirt hanging in soft pleats. The hat was 
also red with a white wing. There was fur on the coat, 
and Carroll could see the fluff of it over the girlish shoul- 
ders. He could see the stiff white gleam of the wing. 
Then he saw who it was — Marie, with a yellow hand- 

397 



THE DEBTOR 



kerchief gathered into a bag in one hand, and a little 
kitten which she had cherished, in a paper bag in the 
other. The kitten's black head protruded, and it was 
mewing shrilly. Marie was radiant with smiles, and she 
wore Charlotte's dress. She had stolen up - stairs and 
viewed herself in the mirror in Mrs. Carroll's room, and 
she had hopes of herself in that costume even without 
any money in her pocket. She was dreaming her hum- 
ble little love-dream again. She smiled up at Carroll in 
a charming fashion as they met. 

" Good-bye," said she, with her pretty little purse of 
the mouth. They had already had an interview con- 
cerning her wages that morning. 

Carroll said good-bye with a stiff motion of his mouth. 
He realized that Charlotte had given Marie her dress. 
Somehow the sight of Marie in that dress almost made 
a child of the man. 



CHAPTER XXXII 



Carroll, when he reached his house, went up to the 
front door, unlocked it, and entered. At once there 
smote upon his consciousness that strange shock of 
emptiness and loneliness which has the effect, for a 
sensitive soul entering a deserted house, of a menacing 
roar of sound. He went through the hall to the little 
smoking-room or den on the right, opposite the dining- 
room, and the first thing which he saw on the divan 
was Charlotte's little chinchilla muff which she had for- 
gotten. He regarded it with the concern of a woman, 
reflecting that she would miss it; and he must send it 
to her, and was wondering vaguely about a suitable 
box, when he became aware of a noise of insistent knock- 
ing mounting in a gradual crescendo from propitiatory- 
timidity to confidence. The knocking was on the kitch- 
en door, and Carroll went hurriedly through the house. 
When he reached the door it was open, and a tramp 
was just entering, with head cautiously thrust forward. 
When he saw Carroll, the unshaven, surly face manifest- 
ly became dismayed. He turned to go, with a mutter 
which savored of appeal, excuse, and defiance, but Car- 
roll viciously accelerated his exit with a thrust between 
the shoulders. 

" What thedevil are youdoing here ?" demanded Carroll. 

The man, rolling surly yet intimidated eyes over his 
shoulder, after a staggering recovery from a fall, mut- 
tered something in an unintelligible patois, the grov- 
elling, slurring whine of his kind. 

399 



THE DEBTOR 



"Well, get out of this!" shouted Carroll. 

The man went, shuffling along with a degree of speed, 
lifting his clumsily shod feet with a sort of painful alac- 
rity as if they were unduly heavy. His back, in its green- 
ish-brown coat, was bent. He was not a very young man, 
although vigorous. Carroll stood looking at the inglori- 
ous exit of this Ishmael, and he was conscious of a feel- 
ing of exhilaration. He felt an agreeable tingling in his 
fists, which were still clinched. The using of them upon 
a legitimate antagonist in whose debt he was not, and 
never had been, acted like a tonic. Then suddenly some- 
thing pathetic in that miserable retreating back struck 
the other man, who also had reason to turn his back on 
and retreat from his kind ; a strange understanding came 
over him. He seemed to know exactly how that other 
man, slinking away from his door, felt. 

" Hullo, you!" he called out. 

The man apparently did not hear, or did not think 
the shout meant for him. He kept on. 

Carroll shouted again. "Hullo, you! Come back 
here!" 

Then the man turned, and his half -scared, half -defiant 
face fronted Carroll. He growled an inarticulate in- 
quiry. 

"Come back here!" repeated Carroll. 

The tramp came slowly, suspiciously, one hand slyly 
lifted as one sees a wary animal with a paw ready for 
possible attack. 

"Wait here," said Carroll, indicating the stoop with 
a gesture, and I will see if I can find something for you 
to eat." 

The man reached the door and paused, and remained 
standing, still with that wary lift of hand and foot in 
readiness for defence or flight, while Carroll rummaged 
in the pantry, which was a lean larder. At last he 
emerged with half a pie and a piece of cake. He ex- 

400 



THE DEBTOR 



tended them to the tramp, who viewed them critically 
and mumbled something about meat. 

"Take these and clear out, or leave them and clear 
out!" shouted Carroll, and again the sense of exhilara- 
tion was over him. 

The man took the proffered food and slunk rapidly 
out of the yard. 

Carroll laughed, and closed and bolted the kitchen 
door, which Marie had left unlocked. Then he returned 
to the den and sat down with the morning paper and 
a cigar. He skimmed over the contents, the rumors of 
wars, and cruelties, the Wall Street items, the burg- 
laries, the fires, the defalcations, the suicides, the stresses 
of the world, creation old, enduring in their fluctuations 
and recurrences like the sea, beating with the same force 
upon the hearts of every new generation. Carroll, as 
he sat there idly smoking, fell to thinking abstractedly 
in that vein. He had a conception of a possible ocean 
of elemental emotion, of joy and passion, of crime and 
agony and greed, ever swelling and ebbing upon the 
shores of humanity. He had a mind of psychological 
cast, although it had been turned of a necessity into 
other channels. Finally he turned wholly to himself 
and his own difficulties, which had reached possibly the 
worst crisis of his life. He had never been in such a 
hard place as this. He had heretofore seen a loop-hole 
out, into another labyrinth in the end, it is true, still a 
way out. Now he saw none except one; that was into 
a fiery torture, and whether it was or was not the tort- 
ure of beneficial sacrifice he could not tell. 

As he sat there his face grew older with the laboring 
of his mind over the track of his failures and over the 
certain difficulties of the future. He sat there all the 
morning. Noon came, but he did not think of food, 
although he had eaten little that morning. He lit an- 
other cigar and took up the paper again, and read an 

401 



THE DEBTOR 

account of the suicide of a bank defaulter by shooting 
himself through the brain. He fell to thinking of sui- 
cide in his own case, as a means of egress from his own 
difficulties, but he thought idly, rather as a means of 
amusement, and not with the slightest seriousness. 
He had a well-balanced brain naturally, and maintained 
the balance even in the midst of misfortune. However, 
a balance, however perfect, indicates by its very name 
something which may be disturbed. He thought over, 
idly, various means of unlawful exit from the world, 
and applied them to his own case. He decided against 
the means employed by the desperate bank cashier; he 
decided against the fiery draught of acid swallowed by 
a love-distracted girl; he decided against the leap from 
a ferry-boat taken by an unknown man, whose body 
lay unidentified in the morgue; he decided against il- 
luminating gas, which had released from the woes of 
life a man and his three children ; he thought rather fa- 
vorably of charcoal ; he thought also rather favorably of 
morphine; he thought more favorably still of the open- 
ing of a vein, employed by fastidious old Romans who 
had enough of feast and gladiators and life generally 
and wished for a chance to leave the entertainment. 
All this was the merest idleness of suggestion, a species 
of rather ghastly amusement, it is true, but none the 
less amusement, of an unemployed and melancholy 
mind. But suddenly, something new and hitherto un- 
experienced was over him, a mood which he had never 
imagined, a possibility which he had never grasped. 
His brain, tried to the extreme by genuine misery, tried 
in addition by dangerous suggestion, lost its perfect 
poise for the time. A mighty hunger and thirst — a 
more than hunger and thirst — a ravening appetite, a 
passion beyond all passions which he had ever known, 
was upon him, had him in its clutches. He knew for 
the first time the most monstrous and irresistible pas- 

402 



THE DEBTOR 

sion of the race, the passion for release from mortal ex- 
istence, the passion for death. At that moment he felt, 
and probably felt truly, that had he been in dire peril, 
he would not have lifted a finger in self-preservation. 
He turned his eyes inward upon himself with greed for 
his own life, for his own blood, and back of that was 
the ravening thirst for release from the world and the 
flesh and the miseries which appertained to them, as 
one suffocating might thirst for air. He realized sud- 
denly himself, stifling and agonizing, behind a window 
which he had no need to wait for an overruling Provi- 
dence to open, which was not too heavy for his own 
mortal strength, which he could open himself. He 
realized that whatever lay outside was outside; it was 
air outside this air, misery outside this particular phase 
which was driving him mad. His imagination dwelling 
upon the different means of suicide, now became judicial. 
He thought seriously upon the drawbacks to one, the 
advantages of another. Then since the man was es- 
sentially unselfish and fond of his own flesh and blood, 
he began to reflect upon the horror of a confessed sui- 
cide to them. He began to study the feasibility of a 
suicide forever undiscovered. He began to plan how the 
thing might distress his family as little as possible. 
His cigar went out as he sat and studied. The furnace 
fire was low and the room grew cold. He never no- 
ticed it. He studied and studied the best means of 
suicide, the best means of concealing it, and all the time 
the greed for it was increasing until his veins seemed 
to run with a liquid fire of monstrous passion, the pas- 
sion of a mortal man for his own immolation upon fate, 
and all the time that sense of intolerable suffocation by 
existence itself, by the air of the world, increased. 

He had now arrived at a state of mind where every 
new phase was produced by suggestion. He was, in 
a sense, hypnotized. Everything served to swing him 

403 



THE DEBTOR 



this way or that, up or down. The sight of a little per- 
fume-bottle on the table, a dainty glass thing traced 
over with silver, set him thinking eagerly of another 
little bottle, of glass with a silver stopper, his wife's 
vinaigrette which she was fond of using when her head 
ached. From that, the contemplation of inhaling aro- 
matic salts, he went naturally enough to the inhaling 
of more potent things which assuage pain, and could 
assuage, if taken in sufficient quantities, the pain of life 
itself. He remembered the exaltation which he had 
experienced once when given chloroform for a slight 
operation. Directly the idea of repeating that blissful 
sensation seized upon him he was mad for it. To go 
out of life like that, to take that way of opening the 
window into eternity, into another phase of existence 
or into oblivion, what ecstasy! He remembered that 
when under the chloroform, a wonderful certainty, a 
comprehension, seemingly, of the true import of life 
and death and of the hereafter, had seized him. He 
remembered a tremendous assurance which he had re- 
ceived under the influence of the drug, of the ultimate 
joy beyond this present existence, of the ultimate end 
in bliss of all misery, of the tending of death to the 
fulness of life. He remembered a rapture beyond words, 
an enthusiasm of gratitude for such an immortal delight 
for the power which he had sometimes rebelled against 
and reviled for placing him in the scale of existence. 
He remembered how all his past troubles seemed as only 
stepping-stones to supernal heights, how he could have 
kissed them for thankfulness that he had been forced 
by an all-wise Providence over the agony of the ascent 
to such rapture. Immediately his thoughts centred 
upon chloroform. He looked across at the divan with 
its heaped-up pillows, and his mind, acting always from 
suggestion, became filled with the picture of his peace- 
ful bed up -stairs, and himself lying thereon, oblivious 

404 



THE DEBTOR 

to all his miserable cares and worries, passing out of 
reach of them on an ecstatic flight propelled by the 
force of the winged drug. He began to consider the 
possibility of obtaining chloroform. At once the in- 
stinct of secrecy asserted itself. He decided that he 
could not, under the circumstances, go into the drug- 
store in Banbridge and ask for a quantity of the drug 
sufficient for his purposes. He realized that to do so 
would be to incur suspicion. He doubted if he could 
maintain a perfectly unmoved countenance while asking 
for it. He felt that his face would bear evidence to his 
wild greed. He heard, as he sat there, the whistle, then 
the rumble of a heavy freight-train a quarter of a mile 
distant, and at once he thought of the feasibility of 
going to New York for the chloroform. He looked at 
his watch and reflected that he had lost the noon train. 
He also reflected as to the possible suspicion which he 
might awaken of going to join his family, and making 
his final exodus from the town and his creditors. He 
placed his watch in his pocket, and his eyes fell on the 
electric-light fixture, with a red silk shade over the bulb, 
and at once his mind conceived the idea of his going 
somewhere on the trolley-cars. He thought of going 
to New Sanderson; then dismissed that as not feasible. 
He knew too many people in that place, and had too 
many creditors. Then he thought of going to Port 
Willis, which was also connected with Banbridge by a 
trolley-line, and was about the same distance. Again 
he looked at his watch. It was nearly two o'clock. He 
wondered absently where the day had gone, that it was 
so late. He had not the least idea as to the times and 
seasons of the Port Willis trolley-cars, but he directly 
arose to make ready. As he did so he heard a distress- 
ful mew, and the black kitten which Marie had essayed 
to carry with her that morning made a leap to the 
window - sill. The little animal looked in, fixed his 

405 



THE DEBTOR 



golden, jewel-like eyes on the man, and again uttered 
an appealing, accusatory wail. Then she rubbed her 
head with a pretty, caressing motion against the win- 
dow-glass. She had evidently escaped from the Hun- 
garian and sped home. Carroll opened the window, 
and the cat arched her back and purred, hesitating. 
Carroll waited patiently. Finally she stepped across 
the sill, and he closed the window. Then he called the 
cat into the kitchen, but he could find no milk for her, 
nothing except a tiny scrap of beefsteak. The cat fol- 
lowed him around the kitchen, slinking with her furry 
stomach sweeping the floor, and mewed loudly, with 
alert eyes of watchful fear, exactly as if she were in a 
strange place. The strangeness in the house intimi- 
dated her. She missed the wonted element of the 
human, and the very corners of her familiar kitchen 
looked strange to her. She would not even eat her 
meat, but ran under the table and wailed loudly, with 
wild eyes of terror on Carroll. He went out, shutting 
the door behind him, and her loud inquiring wail floated 
after him. 

Carroll brushed his overcoat and hat carefully, and 
put them on. He went out of the house and took the 
road to the trolley-line. It was still very cold, and the 
rime of the morning lay yet on the shaded places. In 
the road, in the full glare of the sun, were a few dark, 
damp places. The sky was very clear, with a brisk 
wind from the northwest. It was at Carroll's back 
and urged him along. He walked quite rapidly. He 
had a curious singleness of purpose, as unreasoning and 
unreflective as an animal in search of food. He was 
going to Port Willis for chloroform to satisfy a hunger 
keener than any animal's, to satisfy the keenest hunger 
of which man, body and soul together, is capable, a 
hunger keener than that of love or revenge, the hunger 
for the open beyond the suffocating fastnesses of life. 

406 



THE DEBTOR 



He met several people whom he knew, and bowed per- 
functorily. One or two turned and looked after him. 
Two ladies, starting on a round of calls, Mrs. Lee and 
Mrs. Van Dorn, again looked forth from the window 
of Samson Rawdy's best coach, and at the intent man 
hurrying along the sidewalk. 

"I wonder where's he going," Mrs. Lee said, in a 
hushed tone. She was just approaching a house where 
they meditated calling, and she was rubbing on her 
violet-scented white gloves. Mrs. Lee looked worn and 
considerably thinner than usual, and she was uncom- 
fortably conscious of her last season's bonnet. "My 
bonnet doesn't look very well to make calls," she had 
remarked, when she entered the coach, hired, as usual, 
at her companion's expense. 

"It looks very well indeed," said Mrs. Van Dorn, in 
a covertly triumphant voice. She herself wore a most 
gorgeous new bonnet with a clump of winter roses 
crowning her gray pompadour. "It isn't the one you 
wore last winter, is it?" asked she. 

"Yes," admitted Mrs. Lee. 

"You don't mean it! I thought it was new," said 
Mrs. Van Dorn, lying comfortably. 

"No, it's my old bonnet. I thought maybe it would 
do a while longer," said Mrs. Lee, meekly. 

"I heard yesterday that a good many folks in Ban- 
bridge had been losing money through Captain Carroll," 
said Mrs. Van Dorn, with appositeness. 

Mrs. Lee colored. "Have they?" said she. 

"I heard so." 

"Who is that man coming?" said Mrs. Lee, quickly, 
striving to turn the conversation. Then she directly 
saw that the man was Carroll himself. 

"Why, it's Captain Carroll himself!" said Mrs. Van 
Dorn, and then Mrs. Lee wondered, in her small, hushed 
voice, where he was going. 

37 407 



THE DEBTOR 



Samson Rawdy, driving, looked sharply at him. He 
even leaned far out from the seat after he had passed, 
and watched to make sure he did not take the road to 
the railroad station. Then he began, for the hundredth 
time mentally, calculating the amount that was still 
owing him. It was not much, only a matter of two dol- 
lars and some cents, but his mind dwelt upon it. 

"Seems to me he looked queer/' Mrs. Lee remarked, 
thoughtfully, after Carroll had passed. 

"How do you mean?" 

"I don't know. There was something about the 
way he was walking made me think so. I suppose he 
doesn't know what way to turn." 

"Well, I don't pity him," said Mrs. Van Dorn, with 
subdued vindictiveness. "I don't see what a man is 
thinking of to come into a place and conduct himself as 
he has done. They say he is in debt everywhere, and 
has cheated everybody who didn't know any better 
than to be cheated." 

Mrs. Van Dorn spoke with point. She had heard on 
very good authority that Mrs. Lee's husband had lost 
heavily through his misplaced confidence in Carroll. Mr. 
Lee knew that she knew, but she stood up bravely for 
the maligned man hurrying towards the Port Willis trol- 
ley-car. 

"Well, I don't know," said she. "You can't always 
tell by what people say. It always seems to me that 
Banbridge folks are pretty ready to talk, anyway. We 
don't know how much temptation the poor man has 
had, and maybe he never meant to cheat anybody." 

"Never meant!" repeated Mrs. Van Dorn, sarcasti- 
cally. "Why, that is the way he has been doing right 
along everywhere he has lived. Why, I had it straight 
from a lady I met who had visited in Hillfield, New 
York, where they used to live before they came here. 
Never meant!" 

408 



THE DEBTOR 



" Maybe he didn't," persisted Mrs. Lee. She was a 
grateful soul, and, even if capable of small and petty- 
acts, was of fine grain enough to bear no rancor towards 
the discoverer of them ; but the other woman was built 
on a different plan. 

"I don't take any stock in him at all," she said, with 
a species of delight. She looked out of the small, rear 
window of the coach as she spoke. "He's going to 
Port Willis," she said. "He's getting in the trolley- 
car." 

Samson Rawdy also turned his head and saw with 
a strained side glance Carroll getting into the Port Willis 
trolley-car. Then he said: "G'lang!" to his horses, and 
they turned a corner with a fine sweep, while the ladies 
began getting their cards ready. 

"I wonder what he's going to Port Willis for," said 
Mrs. Van Dorn, reflectively and malignantly. "I sup- 
pose he's looking out for somebody to cheat over there." 

"Well, I pity him, poor man!" said Mrs. Lee. "If 
a man does cheat other folks, he can't do it without 
cheating himself worst of all, and it always turns out 
so in the end." 

As is often the way with a simple tongue, hers spoke 
more wisdom that it wot of. It was indeed quite true 
that poor Arthur Carroll, seating himself in the Port 
Willis trolley-car, had in the bitter end cheated himself 
worse than he had any of his creditors. He was more 
largely in his own debt than in that of any other man ; 
he had, in reality, less of that of which he had cheated 
than had any of his victims. Hardly one of them all 
was in such sore straits as he, for in addition to his im- 
mediate personal necessities there was always the in- 
cubus of the debts. And he was starting forth upon this 
trip with the purpose in his overstrained, distorted 
brain of spending his last reserve, and incurring a debt 
to himself which should never be paid to all eternity, 

409 



THE DEBTOR 



Carroll seated himself in the car, which was already 
quite well filled; there was not much time to .spare be- 
fore its scheduled departure. He found a corner seat 
empty, and settled himself into it with a bitter little 
sense of self-gratulation for at least that minor allevia- 
tion of the situation. The corner seat in a Port Willis 
trolley-car had distinct advantages aside from the phys- 
ical comfort, owing to the frequent crowding and the un- 
certain nature of the component elements of the crowd. 

Carroll settled back in his corner and surveyed his 
fellow-passengers, waiting with a kind of stupid patience 
for the starting of the car. There was a curious look of 
indifference to remaining or going, on most of the faces, 
the natural result of the universality of travel in Ameri- 
ca, the being always on the road for all classes in order 
to cover the enormous distances in this great country 
between home and work or amusement. All excite- 
ment over the mere act of transit has passed; there is 
stolidity and acquiescence as to delays and speed, unless 
there are great interests at stake. As a rule, the people 
in the Port Willis trolley-car had not great interests at 
stake; they were generally not highly organized, ner- 
vously, and were to all appearances carried as woodenly 
from one point to another as were the seats of the car. 
That afternoon a German woman sat nearly opposite 
Carroll. She was well - dressed in a handsome black 
satin skirt, with an ornate, lace-trimmed waist showing 
between the folds of her seal cape. There were smart 
red velvet roses and a feather in her hat. She sat with 
her feet far apart, planted squarely to prevent her 
enormous slanting bulk from slipping on the high seat. 
Her great florid face, a blank of animal cognizance of 
existence, stared straight ahead, her triple chins were 
pressed obstinately into the fur collar of her cape. She 
was the wife of a prosperous saloon proprietor of Port 
Willis, which was a city of saloons. She had herself beeft 

410 



THE DEBTOR 



nourished on beer, until her naturally strong will had 
become so heavy that it clogged her own purposes, 
Her absently set face had a bewildered scowl as if at 
some dimly comprehended opposition. Carroll sur- 
veyed her with a sort of irritated wonder. No mathe- 
matical problem could present for him difficulties as 
insuperable as this other human being, who, in a simi- 
lar stress to his own, would think of beer instead of 
chloroform, and of sleep instead of death — indeed, for 
whom a similar stress could not exist, so cushioned was 
both soul and body with stupidity and flesh against the 
pricks and stabs of life. 

Beside Carroll sat, sprawling his ungainly sideways 
length over the seat, a lank countryman in top-boots 
red with the earth of the country roads. His face, 
lantern -jawed, of the Abraham Lincoln type, lacking 
the shrewd intelligence of the trained brain, was pain- 
fully apathetic. He had scarcely looked up when Car- 
roll took his seat beside him. His lantern jaws worked 
furtively and incessantly with a rotary motion over his 
quid of tobacco, which he chewed with the humble and 
rudimentary comfort of an animal over its cud. He 
was half -starved on his poor country fare, and the to- 
bacco furnished his stomach with imagination in lieu 
of solid food. Now and then he rose and slouched to 
the door, and returned. At the other end of the car, 
opposite, were two Hungarian women, short, squat, 
heavily oscillating as to hips, clad in full, short skirts, 
aprons, and gay handkerchiefs over strange faces, 
at once pitiful, stern, and intimidating. One of the 
women was distinctly handsome, with noble features 
closely framed by a snow-white kerchief. She had the 
expression of the pure and unrelenting asceticism of a 
nun, but four children nearly of an age were with her — 
one a baby in her arms, one asleep with heavy head on 
her shoulder, the other two, a boy and girl, sitting on 

411 



THE DEBTOR 



the seat with their well-shod little feet sticking straight 
out, and their little Slav faces, softened by infancy, 
looked unsmilingly out of the opposite window. The 
baby in her lap was also strangely sullen and solemn, 
with an intensely repellent little face in a soft, white 
hood. The face of the baby looked like an epitome of 
weary, even vicious, heredity. He looked older than 
his mother. Now and then she bent, and her severe 
face took on an expression of majestic tenderness. She 
pressed her handsome face close to the little, elfish, even 
evil face of the child, and kissed it. Then the baby 
smiled a fatuous, toothless smile, and he also was trans- 
formed; his little glory of infancy seemed to illuminate 
the face marked with the labors and sins and degra- 
dation of his progenitors. The other Hungarian woman, 
who had with her one child, older than the baby, very 
large and heavy, caught it up and kissed it with fervor, 
and the child stared at her in return with a sort of 
patient wonder. Then the two women exchanged smiles 
of confidence. Carroll watched, remembering Amy 
with their children. She had been very charming with 
the children, and, after all, there was not such a dif- 
ference as might appear at first. The thought flashed 
into Carroll's mind that here was a little, universal well- 
spring of human nature which was good to see, but the 
deadly pessimism and despair of his own mood made 
him straightway corrupt the spring with his own dark 
conclusions. 

"What is it all for?" he asked himself, bitterly. 
"Look at the handsome alien creature there, with four 
young around her, and the other with that unresponsive 
little brat. Any one of those children, from the looks 
of their faces, is capable, if left to its own unguided 
proclivities, of murdering the very parent who is now 
caressing him; any one of them is hardly capable of 
doing anything in life for his own good or happiness, or 

412 



THE DEBTOR 



the good and happiness of the world, if left to himself, 
as he will be. What does either of those women know 
about training a child with those features, a child dis- 
torted from birth?" 

Beyond Carroll, on the same seat, sat two quite pretty 
young girls with smart hats, and protuberant pompa- 
dours over pink-and-white faces. They had loosened 
their coats, revealing coquettish neckwear. They sat 
with feet crossed, displaying embroidered petticoats, at 
which now and then the Hungarian women glanced 
with the hopeless admiration with which one might 
view crown jewels. The two girls covertly now and 
then reached forward their pretty heads and regarded 
Carroll with half -bold, half - innocent coquettishness, 
but he did not notice it. One whispered to the other 
how handsome he was, and did she know who he was. 

A rumble and jar became audible, and the New 
Sanderson car came up at right angles on the track on 
the other road. The two cars connected. Then pas- 
sengers alighted from the New Sanderson car and en- 
tered the waiting one. There was a distinct stir of ex- 
citement as they entered, for it was evidently a bridal 
party. They were all Hungarians, and on their way to 
Port Willis for the ceremony. There were the pros- 
pective bride and groom and several friends of both sexes. 
They settled themselves in the car, the girls huddled 
close together, the young men by themselves. The 
bride was quite evident from the bridal whiteness of 
her hat, a pitiful cheap affair bedecked with thin white 
ribbon and a forlorn white plume; but although the 
bridegroom was as unmistakable, it was difficult to tell 
how. Carroll decided that it was because of the in- 
tensified melancholy and abjectness and shame of his 
expression. Not one of the young men, who numbered 
as many as the girls, but had it. They were all ignoble, 
contemptible, their faces above their paper collars and 

4i3 



THE DEBTOR 

hideous ties stained with miserable imaginations. There 
was not a self-respecting face among them ; but the girls 
were better. There was in their faces an innocent 
gayety like children. Instead of the painful, restrained 
grins of the young men, they giggled artlessly when their 
eyes met. They were innocently conscious of their 
flimsy and gaudy dresses of the cheapest lawn or muslin 
on that cold day, with a multitude of frills of cheap lace 
and bows of cheap ribbon, with bare hands adorned with 
blue or red stoned rings protruding from their poor 
jacket-sleeves. The bride, afraid of crushing her finery, 
had nothing over her shoulders in her thin white muslin 
except one of the gay Hungarian kerchiefs. It was of 
an exceedingly brilliant green color, a green greener 
than the grass of spring. Above it her homely, down- 
cast face showed beneath the flapping white hat, which 
had a cluster of blue roses under the brim next the dark 
streaks of her coarse hair. The face of the bride was 
simple and rude in contour and line, the face of a peas- 
ant from a long line of peasants, and it was complex 
with the simple complexity of the simplest and most 
primal emotions, with love and joy and wonder, the 
half -fearful triumph of swift inertia, attained at last in 
the full element of life. The others were different; they 
were dimpling and laughing and jesting in their unin- 
telligible guttural. Their faces knew nothing of the 
seriousness of the bride's. One of them was exceeding- 
ly pretty, with a beauty unusual in her race. Her high 
cheek-bones were covered with the softest rosy flesh, 
her wide mouth was outlined by curves. She wore her 
cheap muslin with an air, gathering up her petticoat, 
edged with the coarsest lace, daintily from the muddy 
floor, revealing her large feet in heavy shoes and white 
stockings. All the young men of the party except the 
prospective groom, who sat entirely wrapped in his at- 
mosphere of grinning, shamefaced consciousness, glanced 

414 



THE DEBTOR 

furtively at her from time to time. She was quite aware 
of their glances, but she never returned them. When a 
young man looked at her, she said something to one of 
the girls, and laughed prettily, striking another pose for 
admiration. She never, however, glanced at Carroll 
as did the two pretty girls beyond him on the same seat. 
She seemed to have no consciousness of any one in the 
car outside of those of her own race. Indeed, the whole 
party, travelling in a strange land, speaking their strange 
tongue, gave a curious impression of utter alienty. It 
was almost as if they lived apart in their own crystalline 
sphere of separation, as if they were as much diverse as 
inhabitants of Mars, and yet they were bound on a 
universal errand, which might have served to bring 
them into touch with the rest if anything could. Car- 
roll gathered an uncanny impression that he might be 
himself invisible to these people, that, living in another 
element, they actually could not see or fairly sense any- 
thing outside. He looked from them to the two older 
women of the same race with their children, and again 
his pessimistic attitude, evolved from his own misery, 
set his mind in a bitterly interrogative attitude. He 
looked at the bride and the mistakenly happy mother 
caressing the evil-looking child,* and a sickening disgust 
of the whole was over him. 

The car started, and proceeded at a terrific speed 
along the straight road. Carroll stared past the bulk 
of the German woman at the flying landscape. Since 
noon the sky had become clouded ; it threatened snow 
if the wind should go down. The earth, which had been 
sodden with rain a few days before, the mud from which 
showed dried on the countryman's boots, was now 
frozen in a million wrinkles. The trees stood leafless, 
extending their rattling branches, the old corn-fields 
flickered with withered streamers; a man was mourn- 
fully spreading dung over a slope of field. His old 

415 



THE DEBTOR 



horse stood between the shafts with drooping head. 
The man himself was old, and moved slowly and pain- 
fully. A white beard of unusual length blew over his 
right shoulder. Everything seemed aged and worn and 
weary, and full of knowledge, to its undoing. To Car- 
roll, in this mood, even the bridal-party, even the chil- 
dren, seemed as old as age itself, puppets evolved from 
the ashes of ages, working out a creation-old plan of 
things. 

The car was very close and hot — in fact, the atmos- 
phere was intolerable — but he felt chilly. He pulled his 
coat closer. Two young men, countrymen, who had 
entered from the New Sanderson car, and sat next the 
German woman," eyed him at the gesture, and their 
eyes fell with a sort of dull dissent upon his handsome 
coat. One said something to the other, and both laugh- 
ed with boorish malice. Then one, after glancing at the 
conductor, whose back was turned as he talked to one 
of the pretty girls with pompadours, bent his head hasti- 
ly to the floor. Then he scraped his foot, and looked 
aloft with an innocent and unconcerned expression. 
One of the pretty girls had observed him, and said some- 
thing to the conductor, pointing to a printed placard 
over the man's head. The conductor looked at him, 
but the man did not notice. He gave his fare, when it 
was demanded, surlily. Then he bent his head again, 
when the conductor had turned again, scraped his foot, 
and gave a sharp glance at the same time at Carroll's 
long coat, which was almost within range. The German 
woman suddenly awoke to nervous life and pulled her 
satin skirt aside, with a look at the offender, to which 
he was impervious. 

Then the car stopped in response to a signal, and a 
tiny, evidently aged, woman with the activity of a child 
sprang on board. She had a large bag which she bore 
on one meagre little arm as if it had been a feather. 

416 



THE DEBTOR 

Her wrinkled little face, rosily colored with the cold air, 
peeped alertly from under quite a fine, youthful hat 
trimmed with smart bows and a wing, but set crookedly 
on the head. Her sparse gray hair was strained tightly 
back from her thin temples and wound tightly at the 
back. Although she was undoubtedly old, her face 
could no more be called old than could that of a bird. 
She kept it in constant motion, bringing bright eyes to 
bear upon the different passengers. She did not travel 
very far. She stopped the car, springing alertly to 
her feet and pulling the bell-rope. Then she hopped 
off as spryly as a sparrow, on her thin ankles, moving 
with nervous haste. Then it was that Carroll noticed 
the boy for the first time, although he was seated 
directly opposite, and the child looked long and intently 
at the man. When the strange, agile old woman ran 
through the car, the boy looked across with a look of 
innocent fun at the man, and for the first time the two 
pairs of eyes met. It was not in Carroll, whatever his 
stress of mind, to meet a smile like that without re- 
sponse. He smiled back. Then the boy ducked his 
head with fervor, and off came his little cap, like a gen- 
tleman. 

He was a handsome little fellow, younger than Eddy 
by a year or two, fair-haired and blue-eyed, with a most 
innocent and infantile expression. He was rather poor- 
ly dressed, but he looked well cared for, and he had the 
confident and unhesitating regard of a child who is well- 
beloved. He had a little package of school-books under 
his arm. 

Carroll, after returning the child's smile, turned away. 
He did not look again, although he felt that the blue 
eyes with a look of insistent admiration were stead- 
fastly upon his face. The country through which the 
car was now passing was of a strange, convulsive char- 
acter. It was torn alike by nature and by man, Storms 

4i7 



THE DEBTOR 



and winds had battered at the clayey soil, spade and 
shovel had upturned it. It was honey-combed and up- 
heaved. There were roughly shelving hills overhung 
with coarse dry grass like an old man's beard, there were 
ragged chasms and gulfs, and all in raw reds and tone- 
less browns and drabs, darkened constantly by the 
smoke which descended upon them from the chimneys 
of the great factories to the right. Over this raw red 
and toneless drab surface crawled, on narrow tracks, 
little wagons, drawn by plodding old horses, guided by 
plodding men. Beyond, the salt river gleamed with a 
keen brightness like steel. The sky above it was dull 
and brooding. The wind was going down. The whole 
landscape was desolate, and with a strange, ragged, 
ignominious desolation. The earth looked despoiled, 
insulted, dissected, as if her sacred inner parts were laid 
bare by these poor pygmies, the tools of a few capitalists 
grubbing at her vitals for the clay which meant dollars. 

In the most desolate part of this desolate country, 
the car was stopped, and two Syrians laden with heavy 
grips got on. These tall, darkly gaunt men, their sinis- 
ter picturesqueness thinly disguised by their Western 
garb, these Orientals in the midst of the extremest phase 
of the New World, passed Carroll with grace, and seated 
themselves, with a weary air, and yet an air of ineffable 
lengths of time at command, suggestive of anything but 
weariness. There was actually, or so Carroll fancied, 
a faint odor of attar of rose and sandal-wood evident in 
the horribly close car. The men had in their grips 
rosaries, and Eastern stuffs or Eastern trinkets of the 
cheapest description. 

To Arthur Carroll, regarding them, the fancy oc- 
curred, as it had often occurred, of himself following a 
similar pursuit. He had revolved in his mind all pos- 
sible schemes of money-making, of winning an honest 
living. All the more dignified methods, the methods 

418 



THE DEBTOR 



apparently suited to himself, seemed out of his reach. 
He pictured himself laden with a heavy grip, with two 
of them, one painfully poised on the hip, the other drag- 
ging at the hand, going about the country, concealing 
his rage with abjectness and humility, striving to dis- 
pose of his small and worthless wares for money enough 
to keep the machinery going. 

"I believe I would make a very good peddler," he 
thought. Although his grace of address was involun- 
tary, like any keenly intelligent and retrospective man, 
he could not avoid being aware of it. He felt that he 
could outstrip that saturnine Syrian in his own field. 

Looking away from them, his eyes met the little boy's, 
also returning from a sober, innocent contemplation of 
them, and the boy's eyes again smiled at him with an 
odd, confidential expression. So clearly wise and un- 
derstanding was their direct regard, that it almost seem- 
ed as if the child guessed at the man's thoughts; but 
that was, of course, impossible. Carroll smiled at him 
again, and the little face blushed and dimpled like a 
girl's with admiration and grateful delight. He was a 
daintily built little boy, with nothing of Eddy's little 
dash of manner, but he was charming. The car reached 
Port Willis and proceeded along the principal street. 
Carroll suddenly reflected that he must soon get off; 
he would reach the end of the line. Again his errand 
loomed up before him. The necessity for immediate 
action removed the paralyzing effect which the very 
horror of it had had upon him for a time. Curiously 
enough, during the half -hour in the car he had held, as 
it were, a little truce with this fell appetite which had 
seized upon him. He had thought very little of it. 
The strange inertia of passivity in motion of the other 
passengers had seized upon him, but now was coming 
a period of wakening. The passengers began to drop 
off. The bridal-party went out chattering and laugh- 

419 



THE DEBTOR 



ing, the prospective bride with ugly red spots of agita- 
tion on her high cheek-bones, the pretty girl holding tip 
her laced petticoats with the air of a princess. The 
stout German woman got off in front of her husband's 
saloon. The Syrians stopped in front of a store. Car- 
roll rode through to the end of the line, and there was 
then nobody left except himself, the two pretty girls, 
and the little boy. The girls swept off before him, with 
a consciousness of their backs in his sight. Carroll got 
off, and, to his utter amazement, the little boy, pressing 
close to his heels, lifted a small voice. It was an exceed- 
ingly small and polite little voice, as sweet as a girl's, a 
thin treble. 

" Be you Eddy Carroll's father ?" asked the little voice. 

Carroll looked down from his height at the small creat- 
ure beside him. The little, upturned face looked very 
far down. The little cap was pushed back and the 
fair hair clung to the innocent forehead damply like a 
baby's. 

"Yes, my little man," said he, affably. "Who are 
you ?" 

"I go to school with him," said the little boy. 
"Oh!" said Carroll. 

"Has he went?" further inquired the little boy, wist- 
fully. He was a little scholar, but he had not learned 
as yet the practical application of English. It was "has 
gone" in the book and "has went" on the tongue. 

"Yes; this morning," replied Carroll. 

"I was in his classes," said the little voice. 

"Why, you are younger than he is!" said Carroll. 

"I guess I got my lessons better," admitted the little 
voice, but with no conceit, rather with a measure of 
apology. 

Carroll laughed. "You must have," said he. The 
boy had, undoubtedly, a rather intellectual head, a full 
forehead, and eyes full of thought and question. 

420 



THE DEBTOR 



"You go to school in Banbridge?" said Carroll, walk- 
ing along the street by the boy's side. 

"Yes. I live here. My papa is dead and my mother 
dressmakes." 

"Oh!" said Carroll. Suddenly, to his utter amaze- 
ment, the small hand which w r as free from the books was 
slid into his, and he was walking up the street with the 
strange small boy clinging to his hand. Carroll was 
conscious of a feeling of grotesque amusement, of an- 
noyance, and at the same time of pleasure and of ex- 
quisite flatten'. There was, strangely enough, in the 
child, nothing which savored of the presuming or the 
forward. There was no more offence to be taken than 
if an exceedingly small, timidly ingratiating, and pretty 
dog had followed one. There was the same subtle com- 
pliment implied, that the dog and the child considered 
him a man desirable to be followed, a man to be trusted 
by such helplessness and ignorance and loving admi- 
ration. 

Carroll asked no more questions, but walked up the 
street with the boy clinging to his hand. He thought 
of Eddy, but the touch of this child was very different; 
the hand was softer, not so nervous. Carroll, walking 
up the street, became forgetful of the child, who re- 
mained silent, only glancing up at him now and then, 
timidly and delightedly and admiringly. It was, in 
fact, to the boy, almost as if he were walking hand in 
hand with a god. But to the man had returned in full 
force the abnormal passion which had sent him thither. 
He looked for a drug-store where he could buy chloro- 
form. His mind was as set upon that one end as a 
him ting-dog's upon his quarry. He could not seem to 
grasp anything very intelligently but that one idea, 
which crowded out every other for the time. The two 
passed store after store, markets, beer-saloons, fruit- 
stalls, and dry -goods. There were several blocks before 

421 



THE DEBTOR 



the first drug-store was reached. Carroll saw the red, 
green, and blue bottles in the windows, and turned tow- 
ards the door. 

"Mr. Willard keeps this store; he's a nice man," 
volunteered the boy, in his sweet treble. 

Carroll looked down and smiled mechanically. "Is 
he?" he said. 

"Yes. My mamma makes Mis' Willard's dresses. 
She's real good pay." 

Carroll entered the store, the boy still keeping close 
hold of his hand. 

There was no one behind the counter, on which stood 
an ornate soda-fountain with the usual appliances for 
hot and cold beverages. A thought struck Carroll. 
He put his hand in his pocket and looked down at the 
boy. 

"Do you like chocolate?" he asked. 
The boy blushed and hung his head. 
"Do you?" persisted Carroll. 

"I didn't ask for any," the boy said, in an exceeding- 
ly shamefaced voice. 

Carroll laughed as a man came from the rear of the 
store and paused inquiringly behind the counter. "Give 
this little boy a cup of hot chocolate, and make it pretty 
sweet," he said. 

When the boy was seated, blissfully sipping his 
chocolate, Carroll asked calmly for his chloroform. The 
druggist himself gave it to him without any demur. 
There was that about Carroll's whole appearance 
which completely allayed suspicion. It seemed incon- 
ceivable that a man of such appearance, benevolently 
and genially treating a pretty little boy to a cup of 
chocolate, should be essaying to purchase poison for 
any nefarious purpose. The druggist put up the 
chloroform in a bottle marked poison in red letters, 
changed the bill which Carroll gave him in payment, 

422 



THE DEBTOR 



and remarked that it was a cold day and looked like 
snow. The boy was hurrying to finish his chocolate, 
that he might follow again this object of his admiration, 
but Carroll caught sight of the Banbridge car coming 
up the street, after having made an unusually long wait 
at the terminus of the line. 

"Take your time, my boy. I have to go," he said, 
and hurried out to the car, leaving the boy staring 
wistfully after him with she chocolate sweet upon his 
tongue. 

Carroll, with his chloroform in his pocket, boarded 
the car, and speeded again over the road to Banbridge. 
The way home seemed to him like a dream. He was 
not conscious of much about him ; his mind now seemed 
concentrated on that small bottle in his pocket. He 
noticed nobody in the car, but sat in his corner, with 
eyes fixed absently on the flying landscape. The con- 
ductor had to speak twice before he realized that he 
was asking for his fare. When the car reached the end 
of the line in Banbridge, he sat still for a few seconds 
before he collected himself enough to understand that 
the end of his journey was reached, and it was time 
for him to get off the car and walk home. 

Walking along the familiar way, his apathy began to 
fail and his nervous excitement returned. He began to 
realize everything, this hideous end to his failure of a 
life which was so rapidly approaching. He realized that 
he was walking alone to his deserted home, cold and 
cheerless, dark and silent. It was already dusk, the 
days were short and the sky heavily clouded. The raw 
wind from the northeast smote him hard in the face like 
a diffused flail of wrath. He thought of his wife and 
children and sister speeding along to their old home in 
the cheerful Pullman-car. He reflected that about this 
time they would be thinking of going to the dining-car 
for their dinner. He reflected that after the chloroform 



28 



423 



THE DEBTOR 



had done its work, they would be well cared for in Ken- 
tucky, much better off than they had ever been under 
his doubtful protection; that Eddy might grow up to 
be a better man than his father, that Charlotte would 
marry down there, that they would all be comfortable, 
and in the intense and abnormal self-centredness of the 
mood which was upon him, that mood which leads a 
man to escape from his own agony of life by the first 
exit, that awful hunger for the beyond of his own soul, 
he never gave a thought to the possible sufferings of his 
family, to their possible grief at the loss of him. He 
actually hugged himself with the contemplation of 
their comfort and happiness, which would follow upon 
his demise, as he hugged himself upon the prospective 
ecstasy and oblivion in the bottle in his pocket. 

He came in sight of his house, and a bright light shone 
in the dining-room window. He looked at it in bewil- 
derment. His first thought w T as an unreasoning one that 
some of his creditors had in some unforeseen way taken 
possession. He went wearily around to the side door. 
There was a light also behind the drawn curtain of the 
kitchen. He opened the door and smelled broiling 
beefsteak and tea. Then Charlotte, warm and rosy, 
laughing and almost weeping at the same time, ran 
towards him with her arms held out. 

"I have come back, papa," said she. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 



For the first time in his life Arthur Carroll had a 
perfect sense of the staying power, of the impregnable 
support, of love and the natural ties of humanity. 
Charlotte's slender arms closed around his neck; she 
stood, half-weeping, half-laughing, leaning against him, 
but in reality he leaned against her, the soul of the man 
against the soul of the girl, and he got from it a strength 
which was stronger than life or death. He felt that it 
bent not one whit before his terrible weight of misery 
and perplexity. He was stayed. 

"I came back, papa," Charlotte repeated. She was 
herself a little terrified by what seemed to her a daring 
action; then, too, she dimly perceived something be- 
neath the surface which made her tremble. She felt 
the despairing weight of the other soul against her own. 
She stood still, clinging to her father, saying in her lit- 
tle, quivering voice that she had come back, and he 
was quite still, until at last he made a little sound like 
a dry sob, and Charlotte straightened herself and took 
his hand firmly in her little, soft one. The girl became 
all in a second a woman, with the full-fledged instincts 
of one. She knew just what to do for a man in a mo- 
ment of weakness. She towered, by virtue of the ma- 
ternal instinct within her, high above her father in 
spiritual strength. 

" Papa, come into the house," said she, and her voice 
seemed no longer Charlotte's, but echoed from the man's 
far-off childhood. "Come into the house, papa," she 

425 



THE DEBTOR 



said; "come." And Carroll followed her into the house, 
like a child, his hands clasped firmly and commandingly 
by the little, soft one of his daughter. 

Charlotte led her father into the dining-room, which 
was warm and light. There was a Franklin stove in 
there, and a bright fire burned in it. 

"The furnace fire had gone out, and I could not do 
anything with that, so I made a fire in this stove/ ' 
Charlotte explained. "I made it burn very easily. " 
She spoke with a childish pride. It was, in fact, the 
first time she had ever made a fire. "The fire in the 
kitchen-range was low, too," she said, but I put some 
coal on and I poked it, and there is a beautiful bed of 
coals to cook the beefsteak." Then Charlotte caught 
herself up short. "Oh, the beefsteak will burn!" she 
cried, anxiously. "Do sit down, papa, and wait a 
minute. I must see to the beefsteak." 

With that Charlotte ran into the kitchen, and Car- 
roll dropped into the nearest chair. He felt dazed and 
happy, with the happiness of a man waking to con- 
sciousness from an awful incubus of nightmare, and 
yet a deadly sense of guilt and shame was beginning to 
steal over him. That bottle of chloroform in his pocket 
stung his soul like the worm, which gnaweth the con- 
science unceasingly, of the Scriptures. He thought 
vaguely of removing it, of concealing it somewhere. 
He looked at the china-closet, the door of which stood 
ajar; he looked at the sideboard with its glitter of cut 
glass and silver; but reflected that Charlotte might 
directly go to either and discover it, and make inquiries. 
He kept it in his pocket. 

He heard Charlotte running about in the kitchen. 
He continued to smell the broiling beefsteak and tea, 
and also toast. He became conscious of a healthy 
hunger. He had eaten nothing since morning, and very 
little then. Then he gathered his faculties together 

426 



THE DEBTOR 



enough to wonder how this had come about; how 
and why Charlotte had returned. But he sat still in 
the chair beside the Franklin stove. He gazed steadily 
into the red glow of the coals, and a strange dimness 
came over his vision. A species of counter-hypnotism 
seemed to overcome him. He had been in an abnormal 
state, superinduced by unhealthy suggestions of the 
imagination acting upon a mind ill at ease; now his 
natural state gradually asserted itself. His mind swung 
slowly back to its normal poise. When Charlotte en- 
tered, bearing a platter of beefsteak, he turned to her 
quite naturally. 

"How did it happen, darling ?" he asked. 

Charlotte looked at him, and her face, which had 
been anxious and puzzled, lightened. She laughed. 
"I had my mind all made up, papa," she replied, in a 
triumphant little voice. 

"That you would come back?" 

"Yes, papa. I knew there was no use in saying I 
would not go. I knew if I did, Amy would directly 
declare that she would not go either, and I should spoil 
everything. So I decided that I would start with the 
rest, and come back." 

"How far did you go?" 

"I went to Lancaster. I did not mean to go so far. 
I meant to get off at New Sanderson, but I could not 
manage it. Amy wanted to play pinochle, and I could not 
get away. But when we got to Lancaster, we stopped 
awhile, and Amy was having a nap, and Anna was read- 
ing, and the train made a long stop, and Eddy and I 
got out, and I told Eddy what I was going to do, and 
gave him a little note. I had it all written before I 
started. I said in the note that I was coming back, 
that I did not want to go to Kentucky; that I was 
coming back and would stay with you a little while, 
and then we would both go to Kentucky and join 

427 



THE DEBTOR 



the others. I said they were not to worry about 
me." 

"What did you tell Eddy?" 

" I told Eddy that you could not be left alone with 
nobody to cook for you, and he must get on the train 
and not make any fuss, and tell the others, and be a 
good boy, and he said he would. I saw him safely on 
the train.' ' 

"How did you get here from Lancaster, child ?" 

"I took the trolley," Charlotte said. "There is a 
trolley from Lancaster to New Sanderson, you know, 
papa." 

Charlotte did not explain that the trolley from Lan- 
caster to New Sanderson was not running, and that she 
had walked six miles before connecting with the trolley 
to Banbridge. "I got the meat in New Sanderson," 
said she. "I got some other things, too. You will 
see. We have a beautiful supper, papa." 

Carroll looked at her, and she answered the question 
he was ashamed to ask. "Aunt Catherine sent me a 
little money," she said. "She sent me twenty-five 
dollars in a post-office order. She wrote me a letter and 
sent me the money for myself. She said the shops were 
not very good down there — you know they are not, 
papa — and I might like to buy some little things for 
myself in New York before coming. I said nothing 
about the money to Amy or the others, Decause I had 
this plan. I even let Amy take that extra money and 
buy me the hat. I was afraid I was mean, but I could 
not tell her I had the money, because I wanted to carry 
out this plan, and I did not see how I could get back 
or do anything unless I kept it, for I had no money at 
all before. I have written a letter to Aunt Catherine, 
and she will get it as soon as they get there. I don't 
think she will be angry; and if she is, I don't care." 
Charlotte's voice had a ring of charming defiance. She 

428 



THE DEBTOR 



looked gayly at her father. "Come, papa," said she, 
"the beefsteak is hot. Sit right up, and I will bring 
in the tea and toast. There are some cakes, too, and 
a salad. I have got a beautiful supper, papa. I never 
cooked any beefsteak before, but just look how nice 
that is. Come, papa." 

Carroll obediently drew his chair up to the table. It 
was daintily set; there was even a little vase of flowers, 
rusty red chrysanthemums, in the centre on the embroid- 
ered centrepiece. Charlotte spoke of them when she 
brought in the tea and toast. "I suppose I was ex- 
travagant, papa," she said, "but I stopped at a florist's 
in New Sanderson and bought these. They did not 
cost much — only ten cents for all these." She took her 
seat opposite her father, and poured the tea. She put 
in the lumps of sugar daintily with the silver tongs. 
Her face was beaming; she was lovely; she was a dar- 
ling. She looked over at her father as she extended 
his cup of tea, and there was not a trace of self-love 
in the little face; it was all love for and tender care of 
him. "Oh, I am so glad to be home!" she said, with a 
deep sigh. 

Carroll looked across at her with a sort of adoration 
and dependence which were painful, coming from a 
father towards a child. His face had lightened, but 
he still looked worn and pale and old. He was become 
more and more conscious of the chloroform in his pocket, 
and the shame and guilt of it. 

"Why did you come back, honey?" he asked. 

"I didn't want to go," Charlotte said, simply. "I 
wasn't happy going away and leaving you alone, papa. 
I want to stay here with you, and if you have to leave 
Banbridge I will go with you. I don't mind at all not 
having much to get along with. I can get along with 
very little." 

"You would have been more comfortable with the 
429 



THE DEBTOR 



others, dear/' said Carroll. He did not begin to eat 
his supper, but looked over it at the girl's face. 

" You are not eating anything, papa," said Charlotte. 
"Isn't the beefsteak cooked right?" 

"It is cooked beautifully, honey; just right. All is. 
I am glad to see you come back. You don't just know 
what it means to me, dear, but I am afraid — " 

Charlotte laughed gayly. "I am not," said she. 
"Talk about comfort — isn't this comfort? Please do 
eat the beefsteak, papa." 

Carroll began obediently to eat his supper. When 
he had fairly begun he realized that he was nearly 
famished. In spite of his stress of mind, the needs of 
the flesh reasserted themselves. He could not remem- 
ber anything tasting so good since his boyhood. He 
ate his beefsteak and potatoes and toast; then Char- 
lotte brought forward with triumph a little dish of 
salad, and finally a charlotte-russe. 

"I got these at the baker's in New Sanderson," said 
she. She was dimpling with delight. She looked very 
young, and yet the man continued to have that sense 
of dependence upon her. She exulted openly over her 
supper, her cooking, and her return. "I don't know 
but I was very deceitful, papa," she said, but with glee 
rather than compunction. "Amy and Anna had no idea 
that I did not mean to go with them to Aunt Catherine's, 
and oh, papa, what do you think I did ? What do you ?" 

"What, dear?" 

"My trunk was packed with, with — some old sheets 
and blankets and newspapers — and all my clothes are 
hanging in my closet up-stairs." Charlotte laughed a 
long ring of laughter. "I knew I was deceitful," she 
said again, and laughed again. 

Carroll did not laugh. He was thinking of the Hun- 
garian girl in Charlotte's red dress, but Charlotte thought 
he was sober on account of her deceit. 

43° 



THE DEBTOR 



"Do you think it was very wrong, papa?" she asked, 
with sudden seriousness, eying him wistfully. "I will 
write and tell Amy to - night all about it. I couldn't 
think of any other way to do, papa." 

"I met Marie as I was coming home from the station 
this morning," Carroll said, irrelevantly. 

Charlotte looked at him quickly, blushed, and raised 
her teacup. 

"I thought at first, though I knew it could not be, 
that I saw you coming," said he; "something about her 
dress — " 

"Papa," said Charlotte, setting down her cup, and 
she was half-crying — "papa, I had to. Marie was so 
shabby, and she said that her lover had deserted her 
because she was so poorly dressed ; and though of course 
he could not be a very good man, nor very loyal to 
desert her for such a reason as that, yet those people 
are different, perhaps, and don't look at things as we 
do; and Marie has got another place; but — but she — 
didn't have any money, you know, and she didn't 
really have a dress fit to be seen, and that dress I gave 
her I did not need at all — I really did not, papa. I 
have plenty besides, and so I gave it to her, and my 
little Eton jacket, and I told her she would certainly 
have every cent we owed her, and she seemed very hap- 
py. She is going to a party to-night and will wear that 
dress. She thinks she will get her lover back. Those 
Hungarian men must be queer lovers. Marie said he 
would not marry her, anyway, until she had some 
money for her dowry, but she thinks she may be able 
to keep him until then with my red silk dress, and I 
told her she should certainly have it all in time." Char- 
lotte's voice, in making the last statement, was full of 
pride and confidence without a trace of interrogation. 

"She shall if I live, dear," said Carroll. All at once 
there came over him, stimulated with food for heart 

43i 



THE DEBTOR 



and body, such a rush of the natural instinct for life 
as to completely possess him. It seemed to him that 
as a short time before he had hungered for death, he 
now hungered for life. Even the desire to live and pay 
that miserable little Hungarian servant - maid was a 
tremendous thing. The desire to live for the smallest 
virtues, ambitions, and pleasures of life was compelling 
force. 

"I have something beautiful for breakfast to-morrow 
morning, papa," said Charlotte, "and I know how to 
make coffee." And he felt that it was worth while 
living for to-morrow morning's breakfast alone. No 
doubt this state of mind, as abnormal in its way as the 
other had been, was largely due to physical causes, to 
the unprosaic quantity of food in a stomach which had 
been, cheated of its needs for a number of days. The 
blood rushed through his veins with the added force of 
reaction, supplying his brain. He was not happier — 
that could scarcely be said — but he was swinging in the 
opposite direction. Whereas he had wanted to die, be- 
cause of his misery and failures, he now wanted to live, 
to repair them, and the thought was dawning upon 
him, to take revenge because of them. In this mood 
the consideration of the bottle of chloroform in his 
pocket became more and more humiliating and con- 
demning. The sight of the girl's innocent, triumphant, 
loving little face opposite overwhelmed him with a 
stinging consciousness of it all. He felt at one minute 
a terrible fear lest those clear young eyes of hers could 
penetrate his miserable secret, lest she should say, sud- 
denly: "Papa, what did you go to Port Willis for? 
What have you in your pocket?" 

Charlotte went to bed early, after she had cleared 
away the table and washed the dishes, unwonted tasks 
for her, but which she performed with a delight intensi- 
fied by a feeling of daring. 

432 



THE DEBTOR 



"Papa, I have washed the dishes beautifully; I know 
I have," she said, and she looked at him for praise, her 
head on one side, her look half -whimsical, half -childishly- 
earnest. "I don't see why it is at all hard work to be 
a maid," said she. 

"There are other things to do, dear, I suppose," 
Carroll said. 

"I think I could easily learn to do the other things," 
said she. "I don't quite know about the washing and 
ironing, and possibly the scrubbing and sweeping." 
Charlotte surveyed, as she spoke, her hands. She looked 
at the little, pink palms, made pinker and slightly wrin- 
kled by the dish-water ; she turned them and surveyed 
the backs with the slightly scalloping joints, and the 
thin-nailed fingers. She shook her head. "I don't 
know," said she, again. 

"I know," Carroll said, quickly. "Your father is 
going to take care of you, Charlotte. It has not yet 
come to that pass that he is quite helpless." 

Charlotte did not seem to notice his hurt, indignant 
tone. She went on reflectively. "It does seem," said 
she, "as if there were a great many ways of being crip- 
pled besides not having all your arms and legs; as if 
it were really being very much crippled if you are in 
a place where there is work to be done, and your hands 
are not rightly made for doing it. Now here I am, and 
I can't do Marie's work as well as Marie did it, because 
she was really born with hands for washing and ironing 
and scrubbing and sweeping, and I wasn't. A person 
is really crippled when she is born unfitted to do the 
things that come her way to be done, isn't she, papa?" 

"There is no question of your doing such things, 
Charlotte," Carroll said again, and Charlotte looked at 
him quickly. 

"Why, papa!" said she, and went up to him and 
kissed him. She rubbed her cheek caressingly against 

433 



THE DEBTOR 



his, and his cheek felt wet. She realized that with a 
sort of terror. " Why, papa, I did not mean any harm!" 
she said. 

"I will get a servant for you to-morrow, Charlotte," 
he said, brokenly. "It has not yet come to pass that 
you have to do such work." He spoke brokenly. He 
did not trust himself to look at the girl, who was now 
looking at him intently and seriously. 

"Papa, listen to me," said she. "Really, there is 
no scrubbing nor sweeping nor washing nor ironing to 
be done here for quite a time. Marie has left the house 
in very good condition. There is enough money to pay 
for the laundry for some time, and as for the cooking, 
you can see that I shall love to do that. You know 
Aunt Catherine used to let me cook, that I always 
liked to." 

Carroll made no reply. 

"Papa, you are not well; you are all worn out," 
Charlotte said. " Let us go into the den, and you smoke 
a cigar and I will read to you." 

Carroll shook his head. "No, dear, not to-night," 
he said. 

"We will have a game of cribbage." 

"No, dear, not to-night. You are tired, and you 
must go to bed. Take a book and go to bed and read. 
You are tired." 

"I am not very tired," said Charlotte, but therein 
she did not speak the entire truth. Her spirit was leap- 
ing with happy buoyancy, but she could scarcely stand 
on her feet, she was so fatigued with her unaccustomed 
labor and the excitement of it all. There was a ringing 
in her ears, and her eyelids felt stiff; she was also a lit- 
tle hoarse. "Will you go to bed, too, papa?" said she, 
anxiously. 

"I will go very soon, dear." 

"Won't you want anything else before you go?" 
434 



THE DEBTOR 



"No, darling." 

Charlotte stood regarding him with the sweetest ex- 
pression of protection and worshipful affection, and 
withal the naivete of a child pleased with herself and 
what she has done for the beloved one. "You did have 
a good supper, didn't you, papa?" she asked. 

"A beautiful supper, sweetheart." 

"You never had a better?" 

"Never so good, never half so good," said Carroll, 
fervently, smiling down at her eager face. 

"You are glad I came back, aren't you, papa?" 

"Glad for my own sake, God knows, dear, but — " 

"There are no buts at all," Charlotte cried, laughing. 
"No buts at all. If you don't think I am happier and 
better off here with you than I would be rattling down 
to Kentucky on that old railroad, and I am always car- 
sick on a long journey, you know, papa." 

Charlotte lit a lamp and bade her father good-night. 
She kissed him and looked at him anxiously and with 
a little bewilderment. He had seated himself, and was 
smoking with an abstracted air, his eyes fixed on 
vacancy. 

"Now, papa, you will go to bed very soon yourself, 
won't you?" she urged. "You look sick, and I know 
you are tired out." 

"Very soon, honey," Carroll replied. 

After Charlotte had gotten into bed, and lay there 
with her lamp on a stand beside her and her book in 
hand, she listened more than she read. When in the 
course of half an hour she heard her father come up the 
stairs and enter his own room, she gave a sigh of relief. 
"Good-night, papa," she called out. 

"Good-night, dear," he responded. Then Charlotte 
fell asleep with her light burning and her book in her 
hand, and she did not hear her father go softly over 
the stairs a second time. 

435 



THE DEBTOR 

As was said, his mind, in regaining its normal balance, 
had swung too far to the opposite direction. His de- 
sire to live, that possessed him, was as much too intense 
as his previous desire to die. He had for the time 
being another fixed idea, not as dangerous in a sense as 
the other, at least not to himself, but still dangerous. 
The miserable little bottle of chloroform became, in this 
second abnormal state of his mind, the key-note on 
which his strenuous thoughts harped. It seemed to 
him that that bottle with its red label of * 1 Poison' ' was 
as horrible a thing to have as a blood-stained knife of 
murder. It was in a sense blood-stained. It bore the 
stigma of the self - murderer. It bore evidence to his 
hideous cowardice, his unspeakable crime of spirit. He 
felt that he must do away with that bottle ; but how ? 
After he was in his room, and the door locked, he took 
the bottle from its neat wrapper of pink paper and 
looked at it. It seemed like an absurdly easy thing to 
dispose of; but it did not, when he reflected, seem easy 
at all. It was not a thing to burn, or throw away. 
He thought of opening the window and giving it a fling; 
but what was to hinder some one finding it in the morn- 
ing under the windows? The man actually sat down 
and gazed awhile at the small phial of death with utter 
helplessness and horror; and as he did so, the always 
smouldering wrath of his soul towards that man in 
Kentucky, that man who had wronged him, swelled to 
its height. He had always hated him, but his hate had 
never assumed such strength as this. He became con- 
scious, as he had never been before, that that man was 
responsible for it all, even to the crowning horror and 
ignominy of that bottle. He reflected that no man of 
his name had ever, so far as he knew, stained it as he 
had done by his life ; that no man of his name had ever 
so stained the record of his race by the contemplation 
of such a dastardly death. He felt, gazing at that 

43 6 



THE DEBTOR 



bottle, every whit as guilty as if he had drained the con- 
tents, and he told himself that that man was responsible, 
that that man had murdered him in the worst and subt- 
lest way in which murder can be done ; he had caused 
him to do away with his own honor. He felt himself 
alive to his furthest fancy with hate and a desire for 
revenge. 

"I will live, and I will have the better of him yet," 
he muttered to himself. 

Every nerve tingled; his fingers clutched the bot- 
tle like hot wires — that bottle which that other man 
had caused him to buy, and which he could not get 
rid of, this palpable witness to his crime and dis- 
grace. 

Finally he got up and threw up the window ; then he 
put it down again. It did not seem to him, in his un- 
reasoning state, that he could probably empty the 
chloroform out of the window without the slightest 
danger of detection, and then scrape the label from the 
bottle. It did not seem possible to him that Charlotte 
would not immediately perceive the fumes of the drug 
which would cry to her from the ground. Her room 
was next his own. He sat down again and gazed at 
the bottle with the absurd bewilderment of a drunken 
man. Then he tried stowing it away in a drawer of the 
dresser, behind a pile of shirts. He even, after doing 
that, began to undress, but that did not satisfy him. 
It seemed certain to him that Charlotte would find it 
in the morning, and say, " Why, papa, what is this bot- 
tle marked * Poison' in your drawer?" 

At last he unlocked his door, opened it, and stole 
softly down - stairs. He unfastened the kitchen door, 
and went across the field and garden behind the house, 
to the little pond beside the rustic arbor, the little senti- 
mental Idlewild of the original dwellers in the house. 
It was a dark, waving night. It still did not storm, 

437 



THE DEBTOR 

and was warmer. It would probably rain before morn- 
ing. The wind smote his face damply. He had come 
out in his shirt-sleeves. He moved slyly, like a thief; he 
felt like one. like a thief and a murderer — a self-murderer, 
and a murderer, in will, of the man who had caused him 
to commit the crime. He felt burning with hate as 
he slunk across the field, of hate of the man who had 
brought him to this, who had caused his financial and 
moral downfall. At that time, had the man been near, 
his life would have been worth nothing. Carroll thought, 
as he hurried on, holding fast to the bottle, how he could 
overthrow him, uncork the bottle and hold it to his 
face, that he might inhale the death he had meted out 
to him. It seemed to him like the merest instinct of 
self - defence. He stumbled now and then over the 
tangle of dry vines in the garden, among the corn-stalks. 
He went like a guilty thing, instead of moving with his 
usual confident state, the state of a gentleman from a 
long line of gentlemen. He had become alive to his 
own shame, his own ignominy, and he had turned at 
bay upon the one who had caused him, as he judged, to 
fall. 

When he reached the little pond, he paused and looked 
about him for a second. It was a desolate spot at that 
time of year and that hour. The little sheet of water 
gleamed dully like an obscured eye of life. The trees 
waved their slender arms over it. Something about 
the summer-house creaked as a damp wind blew on his 
face. He saw through the trees a faint gleam of light 
from a house window farther down the road. He heard 
a rustle in the undergrowth on his right, probably a 
stray cat or a bird. He stood there holding the bottle 
of chloroform and hating that man ; then he raised his 
arm and flung the thing into the pond. There was a 
splash which sounded unnaturally loud, as if it could be 
heard a long distance. 

438 



THE DEBTOR 



Then Carroll turned and went home across the field; 
the evidence of his guilt was hidden away out of sight, 
but the memory and consciousness of it was in his very 
soul and had become a part of him, and his hate of the 
man who had brought him to it stalked by his side like 
a demon across the fields. 
29 



CHAPTER XXXIV 



The next morning Carroll looked ill, so ill that Char- 
lotte regarded him with dismay as she sat opposite him 
at the breakfast-table. She was full of delight over her 
meal. She had gotten up early and made the fire and 
cooked the breakfast ; in fact, Carroll had been awakened 
from the uneasy sleep into which he had fallen towards 
morning by the fragrance of the coffee. He opened his 
eyes, and it took him some time to adjust himself to 
his environment, so much had happened since the 
morning before. He awoke in the same room, in the 
same bed, but spiritual stresses had made him unfamil- 
iar with himself. It took him some time to recall every- 
thing — the departure of his family, his journey to Port 
Willis, Charlotte's return, the chloroform — but that 
which required no time to return, which was like a vital 
flame in him from the first second of his consciousness, 
was his hatred of the man who had done him the wrong. 
As he lay there reflecting he became aware that he had 
always hated in just such measure as this, from the very 
first moment in which he had become aware of the 
wrong, only he had not himself fairly sensed the mighty 
power of the hate. He had not known that it so per- 
meated his very soul, so filled it with unnatural fire. At 
last he arose and dressed and went down-stairs, and 
greeted Charlotte, radiant and triumphant, and seated 
himself opposite her at the table, when her face fell. 

"You are certainly ill, papa," said she. 

" No, dear," said Carroll. " I am not ill at all." This 
440 



THE DEBTOR 



morning he tried to eat, to please her, for his appetite of 
the night before had gone. He was haggard and pale, 
and his eyes looked strained. 

"You look very ill/' said Charlotte. "Let me call 
the doctor for you, papa, dear." 

Carroll laughed. " Nonsense," he said. " I am as well as 
ever I was. You make a baby of your old father, honey." 

"Have another chop, then," said Charlotte. 

And Carroll passed his plate for the chop, and ate it, 
although it fairly nauseated him. He looked at the 
child opposite as he ate, and she looked as beautiful as 
an angel, and as good as one to him. He thought how 
the little thing had come back to him, her unfortunate 
father, who had made such a muddle of his life, who had 
been able to do so little for her; how she had given up 
the certainty of a happy and comfortable home for un- 
certainty, and possibly privation, and the purest grati- 
tude and love that was so intense possessed him. Look- 
ing at Charlotte, he almost forgot the hatred of the man 
who had brought this upon him, and then the hatred 
awoke to fiercer life because of the love. 

Then, all unconsciously, Charlotte herself, seemingly 
actuated by a species of mental telegraphy, spurred 
him on. "Papa," said she, viewing him with appro- 
bation as he ate his second chop, "is that man in Acton 
who treated you so dreadfully still living there?" 

Carroll's face contracted. "Yes, dear," he said. 

"If I had gone down there, and had seen that man, 
I should have been afraid of the way I would have felt 
when I saw him," said Charlotte. Her innocent girl's 
face took on an expression which was the echo of her 
father's. "I suppose he is prosperous," she said. 

"I think so, honey." 

"I feel wicked when I think of him," said Charlotte, 
still with the look which echoed her father's, "when I 
think of all he has made you suffer, papa." 

441 



THE DEBTOR 



Carroll made no reply ; the two looked at each other 
for a second. The girl's soft face became almost terrible. 

"I think if I were a man, and met him, and — had a 
pistol, I should kill him," she said, slowly. 

Carroll made an effort which fairly convulsed him. 
His face changed. He sprang up, went over to Char- 
lotte, took hold of her head, bent it back, and kissed her. 
"For God's sake, honey, don't talk in that way!" he 
said. "All this is not for you to meddle with nor 
trouble your little head with." 

"Yes it is, if it troubles you, papa." 

"I can manage my own troubles, and I don't want 
any little girl like you trying to take hold of the heavy 
end," Carroll said, and laughed quite naturally. 

"Then you must not look so ill, papa." 

"I am going to have another cup of coffee," Carroll 
said, and showed diplomacy. 

Charlotte delightedly poured out the coffee. "Isn't 
it very good coffee?" she said. 

"Delicious coffee." 

"I am going to get a beautiful dinner for you," 
Charlotte said. The second cup of coffee had reassured 
her. She began to think her father did not look so ill, 
after all. She was herself in a state of perfect content 
and happiness. She felt a sense of triumph, of daring, 
which exhilarated her. She adored her father, and how 
cleverly she had managed this coming back. How im- 
possible she had made it for any one to gainsay her! 
After breakfast her father went out, telling her he 
should be home by noon, and she busied herself about 
the house. She was an absolute novice about such work, 
but she found in it a charm of novelty, and she de- 
veloped a handiness which filled her with renewed tri- 
umph. She kept considering what would her father 
have done if she had not returned. 

"He would have had no supper when he came home 
442 



THE DEBTOR 



last night," Charlotte said — "no supper, for he evidently 
was not going to the inn, and the fire was out. How 
dreadful it would have been for him!" She imagined 
perfectly her father's sensations of delighted surprise 
and relief when he espied her, to welcome him, when he 
felt the warmth of the fire, when he smelled the supper. 
The pure delight of a woman over the comfort which 
she gives a child or a man whom she loves was over her. 
She realized her father's comfort as she had never 
realized any of her own. She fairly danced about her 
work. She put the bedrooms in order, she washed the 
breakfast dishes. Then she meditated going down- 
town and buying a fish for dinner. Carroll was very 
fond of baked fish. About ten o'clock she had finished 
her work, and she put on her hat and coat and set forth. 
She ordered the fish, and paid for it. She gave the man 
a five-dollar note to change. He looked at it suspicious- 
ly. When she had gone out, he and two other men 
who were standing in the little market looked at one 
another. 

"Guess the world's comin' to an end," he said, laugh- 
ing, "when they pay cash with five-dollar bills." 

"Sure it was a good one?" said one of the other men. 

"I thought all Carroll's family had went," said the 
third man. 

"Guess they didn't have enough money to take this 
one, and you can't beat the Pennsylvania Railroad 
nohow," said the fishman. 

Charlotte went on to the butcher's, bought and paid 
for some ham, then to Anderson's for eggs. The- old 
clerk came forward as she entered, and answered her 
question about the eggs. 

"Do you want them charged: ' he asked. 

"No, I will pay for them," replied Charlotte, and took 
her little purse, and just then Anderson, having heard 
her voice, looked incredulously out of his office, his 

443 



THE DEBTOR 



morning paper in hand. Charlotte laid some money on 
the counter, and stepped forward at once. She saw 
with a sort of wonder, and an agitation within herself 
for which she could not account, that the man was dead- 
ly white, that he fairly trembled. 

" Good-morning, Mr. Anderson," she said. 

Anderson was a man of self-control, but he gazed 
down at her fairly speechless. He had been telling 
himself that she had gone as certainly out of his life 
as if she were dead, and here she was again. 

"I thought," he stammered, finally. 

Charlotte's face of innocent wonder and disturbance 
flushed. "No, I did not go, after all," she said, like a 
child. "That is, I started, but I went no farther than 
Lancaster. They thought I was going — they all did — 
but I could not leave papa alone, and so I came back." 
She was incoherent. Her own confusion deepened. 
She tried to look into the man's face, but her own eyes 
fell; her lips quivered. She was almost crying, but 
she did not know why. She turned to the counter, be- 
hind which stood the man with the package of eggs 
and the change. 

"Send that package," Anderson said, brusquely. 

"The wagon has gone." 

"Send it as soon as it comes back. There will be 
time enough." 

"I can manage if I don't have the eggs until noon," 
said Charlotte. 

The clerk turned to put away the parcel in readiness 
for the delivery -wagon, and again Anderson and the 
girl looked at each other. Anderson had caught up his 
hat with his newspaper as he came out of the office, and 
Charlotte looked at it. 

"Were you going out?" she asked, timidly, and yet 
the question seemed to imply a suggestion. She glanced 
towards the door. 

444 



THE DEBTOR 



Anderson muttered something about an errand, and 
went out with her. They walked along the street to- 
gether. Suddenly Charlotte looked up in his face and 
began confiding in him. She told the whole story. 

"You see, I couldn't leave papa," she concluded. 

Anderson looked down at her, and the look was 
unmistakable. Charlotte blushed and her face quiv- 
ered. 

"Then you are going to say here all winter?" he said, 
in a low voice. 

"Oh no, I think not," she replied. "I think we shall 
go away." 

Anderson's face fell. She had spoken very eagerly, 
almost as if she were anxious to go. 

She made it worse. "I don't think I should have 
come back if it had not been for that," she said. "I 
did not see what poor papa could do all alone, trying 
to move. I don't think I should." 

"Yes," said Anderson, soberly. 

"Perhaps I should not have," said she. She did not 
look at him. She kept her eyes fixed on the frozen 
ground, but the man's face lighted. 

They kept on in a vague sort of fashion and had 
reached the post-office. They entered, and when An- 
derson had unlocked his box and taken out his mail, 
and Charlotte had gotten some letters which looked like 
bills for her father, he realized that he had no excuse 
to go any farther with her. He bade her good-morning, 
therefore. Charlotte said good-morning, and there was 
a little uncertainty and wistfulness in her look and 
voice. She was very unsophisticated, and she was 
wondering whether she should ask him to call, now her 
mother and aunt had gone. She resolved that she would 
ask her father. As for Anderson, he went back to the 
store in a sort of dream. He suddenly began to won- 
der if the impossible could be possible. At one mo- 

445 



THE DEBTOR 



ment he ridiculed himself for the absurdity of such an 
imagination, even, and then the imagination returned. 
He reflected that he would have had no such doubt 
if it had not been for his lack of success in his profession. 
He charged himself with a lack of self-respect that he 
should have doubts now. 

" After all, I am a man," he told himself. "I am as 
good as ever I was." 

Then he considered, and rightly, that it was not his 
own just estimate of himself which was to be taken into 
consideration in a case of this sort, but that of the peo- 
ple. He realized that a girl brought up as Charlotte 
Carroll had been might, knowing, as she must finally 
know, her own father to be little better than a common 
swindler, not even dream of the possibility of marrying 
a grocer. He had to pass his old office on his way home 
to dinner that noon, and he looked at it with more regret 
than he had ever done since leaving it. The school was 
out and the children were streaming along the street. 
The air was full of their chatter. Henry Edgecomb came 
up behind him with a good-morning. He looked worn 
and nervous. Anderson looked at him sharply after 
his greeting. 

4< What is the matter?" he asked. 

"Nothing, only I am tired out," Edgecomb replied, 
wearily. "Sometimes I envy you." 

"Don't," said Anderson. 

"I do. This friction with new souls and tempera- 
ments is wearing my old one thin. I would rather sell 
butter and cheese." 

"Rather do anything than desert the battle-field you 
have chosen, because you are beaten," said Anderson, 
with sudden bitterness. 

"Nonsense! You are not beaten." 

"Yes, I am." 

"You have simply taken up new weapons." 
446 



THE DEBTOR 



"Weights and balances," said Anderson, but his laugh 
was bitter. 

He left Edgecomb at the corner, and, going up his own 
street, reflected again. He began to wonder if possibly 
he would not have done better to have stuck to his 
profession; if he could not have left Banbridge and 
tried elsewhere — in the City. He wondered if he had 
shown energy and manly ambition, if he had not been 
poor-spirited. When he reached home his mother eyed 
him anxiously and asked if he were ill. 

"No," he said, "but I met Henry, and he looks 
wretchedly." 

"He hasn't enough to eat," Mrs. Anderson said. 
"Harriet does not give him enough to eat. It is a 
shame. If I were in his place I would get married." 

"He says he is tired out teaching. He talks about 
the friction of so many natures on his." 

"Of course there is a friction," said Mrs. Anderson, 
"but he could stand it if he had more to eat. Let us 
have a dinner next Sunday night; let us have a roast 
turkey and a pudding. We will have lunch at noon. 
Henry is very fond of turkey, and it is late enough to 
get good ones." 

"Shall we ask Harriet?" inquired Anderson, with a 
lurking mischief. 

His mother looked at him with quick suspicion. 
"You don't want her asked?" she said. 

"Why should she be asked? She never is." 

"I don't know but with an extra dinner — " 

"She has her mission," Mrs. Anderson said, with 
firmness. "You are eating nothing yourself, Randolph." 
Presently she looked at her son with an inscrutable ex- 
pression. "Are the Carrolls all gone?" she asked. 

Anderson cut himself a bit of beefsteak carefully be- 
fore replying. "Some of them, I believe," said he. 

"I heard Mrs. Carroll and her sister and daughter and 
447 



THE DEBTOR 



the boy all went yesterday morning. Josie Eggleston 
came in about the Rainy Day Club meeting, this morn- 
ing, and she told me." There was something so inter- 
rogative in his mother's tone that Anderson was obliged 
to say something. 

"They all went except the daughter, I believe/' he 
said. 

"The girl who was here?" 
"Yes." 

"Then she didn't go?" 

"She went as far as Lancaster, but she came back?" 
"Came back?" 

"Yes. She didn't want to leave her father alone, 
and — under a cloud, as he seems to be, and she knew 
if she declared she was not going there would be opposi- 
tion — that, in fact, her mother would not go." 

"I don't think much of her for going, anyway," said 
Mrs. Anderson. "Leaving her husband all alone. I 
don't care what he had done, he was her husband, and 
I dare say he cheated on her account, mostly. She 
ought not to have gone." 

"They wanted her to go; she is not very strong; and 
the sister is really ill," said Anderson, " and so the daugh- 
ter planned it. She went as far as Lancaster, then she 
got off the train." 

"Why, I should think her mother would be crazy ? n 

"She sent word back, a letter by Eddy. He got off 
the train with her; the train stopped there a few min- 
utes." 

"Then she came back?" 
"Yes." 

"And she is going to stay with her father?" 
"Yes." 

"Oh!" said Mrs. Anderson. 

After dinner Anderson sat beside the sitting-room 
window with his noon mail, as was his custom, for a 

448 



THE DEBTOR 



few minutes before returning to the store, and his mother 
came up behind him. She stroked his hair, which was 
thick and brown, and only a little gray on the temples. 

"She is a very pretty girl, and I think she is a dear 
child to come back and not leave her father alone, " she 
said. 

Anderson did not look up, but he leaned his head 
caressingly towards his mother. 

"I have been thinking, " said she. "I am a good 
deal older; she is only a little, young girl, and I am an 
old lady, and I have never called there. You know I 
never call on new people nowadays, but she must be 
very lonely, all alone there. I think I shall go up there 
and call on her some afternoon this week, if it is pleas- 
ant. I have some other calls I want to make on the 
way there, and I might as well." 

" I will order the coach for you any afternoon you say, 
mother/ ' replied Anderson. 



CHAPTER XXXV 



It was the next day but one that Mrs. Anderson, ar- 
rayed in her best, seated in state in the Rawdy coach', 
was driven into the grounds of the Carroll house. Char- 
lotte answered her ring. The elder woman's quick eye 
saw, with both pity and disapproval, that the girl was 
unsuitably arrayed for housework in a light cloth dress, 
which was necessarily stained and spotted. 

"She had on no apron," she told her son that night. 
"I don't suppose the poor child owns one, and of course 
she could not help getting her dress spotted. Her little 
hands were clean, though, and I think she tries hard. 
The parlor was all in a whirl of dust. She had just 
been sweeping, and flirting her broom as people always 
do who don't know how to sweep. The poor child's 
hair was white with dust, and I sat down in a heap of 
it, with my best black silk dress, but of course I wouldn't 
have seemed to notice it for anything. I brushed it 
off when I got in the carriage. I said, 'You are doing 
your work?' And she said, 'Yes, Mrs. Anderson.' 
She laughed, but she looked sort of pitiful. The poor 
little thing is tired. She isn't cut out for such work. 
I said her hands and arms didn't look as if she could 
sweep very easily, but she bristled right up and said she 
was very strong, very much stronger than she looked, 
and papa wanted to get a maid for her, but she preferred 
doing without one. She wanted the exercise. The 
way she said preferred! I didn't try to pity her any 
more, for that. Randolph — " 

45° 



' THE ELDER WOMAN'S QUICK EYE SAW THAT THE GIRL WAS 
UNSUITABLY ARRAYED " 



THE DEBTOR 



1 'What is it, mother?" 

"How much has that child seen of you?" 

"Not so very much, mother. Why?" 

"I think she thinks a great deal about you." 

"Nonsense, mother!" Anderson said. It was after 
tea that night, and the mother and son sat together in 
the sitting-room. They had a fire on the hearth, and 
it looked very pleasant. Mrs. Anderson had a fine 
white apron over her best black silk, and she sat one 
side of the table, knitting. Anderson was smoking and 
reading the evening paper on the other. He continued 
to smoke and apparently to read after his mother made 
that statement with regard to Charlotte. She looked 
at him and knew perfectly well that he was not com- 
prehending anything he read. 

"She is a very sweet girl," she said, presently, in an 
inscrutable voice. "I don't like her family, and I must 
say I think her father, from what I hear, almost ought 
to be in prison, but I don't think that child is to blame." 

"Of course not," said Anderson. He turned his 
paper with an air of pretended abstraction. 

"She says she thinks her father will leave Banbridge 
before long," said Mrs. Anderson, further. 

Her son made no response. She sat thinking how, 
if Carroll did leave Banbridge and the rest of the family 
were in Kentucky, why, the girl could be judged sepa- 
rately ; and if Randolph should fancy her — she was not 
at all sure that he did — of Charlotte she had not a 
doubt. She had never had a doubt of any woman's 
attitude of readiness to grasp the sceptre, if it were 
only held out by her son. And she herself was con- 
scious of something which was almost infatuation for 
the girl. Something about her appealed to her. She 
had an almost fierce impulse of protection, of partisan- 
ship. 

Anderson himself had not the least realization of his 
4S 1 



THE DEBTOR 



mother's actual sentiments in the matter. It was the 
consequence in inconsequence of a woman, which a man 
can seldom grasp. From what he had known of his 
mother's character heretofore, a girl coming from such 
a family would have been the last one to appeal to her 
for a daughter - in - law. She had been plainly hostile 
to young women with much superior matrimonial as- 
sets. He had often surmised that she did not wish 
him to marry at all. He did not understand the pos- 
sibility there is in some women's natures of themselves 
falling in love, both individually and vicariously, with 
the woman who loves their sons, or who is supposed to 
love their sons. 

" Captain Carroll came into the yard just as I drove 
out," said Mrs. Anderson. "He is a very fine -looking 
man. It is a pity." Then she added again, with an 
obscure accent of congratulation, "Well, if he goes away 
nobody need say anything more against him." 

Anderson reflected, without expressing it aloud, that 
it was doubtful if Carroll's exit was possible, and, if 
possible, would be conducive to silence from his credi- 
tors, but he apparently continued to read. 

" He is a very handsome man," said his mother again, 
"and he has the air of a gentleman. He bowed to me 
like a prince. He is a very fine-looking man, isn't he?" 

Before Anderson could reply the door-bell rang. 

"I wonder who it is," Mrs. Anderson said, in a hushed 
voice. 

"Somebody on business, probably," replied Ander- 
son, rising. The maid had gone out. As he went into 
the front hall his mother rustled softly into the dining- 
room. She was always averse to being in the room 
when men came on business. Sometimes commercial 
travellers infringed upon Anderson's home hours, and 
she was always covertly indignant. She was constantly 
in a state of armed humility with regard to the details 

452 



THE DEBTOR 

of business. She felt the incongruity of herself, the 
elderly gentlewoman in the soft, rich, black silk, with 
the scarf of real lace fastened with a brooch of real 
pearls at the throat, with the cap of real lace, with the 
knots of lavender ribbon, on her fluff of white curls, 
remaining in the room while the discussion as to the 
rates of tea and coffee or sugar or soap went on. So 
she slipped with her knitting-work into the dining-room, 
but she dropped her ball of white wool, which remained 
beside the chair which she had occupied in the sitting- 
room. She was knitting a white shawl. She sat be- 
side the dining-table, and continued to knit, however, 
pulling furtively on the recreant ball, while her son 
ushered somebody into the sitting-room, asked him 
politely to be seated, and then closed the door. That 
prevented her from knitting any more, as the wool was 
held taut. So she finally laid her work on the table 
and went out into the hall on her way up-stairs. The 
door leading from the hall into the sitting-room was 
closed, and she stopped and eyed curiously the hat 
and coat on the old - fashioned mahogany table in the 
hall. She stood looking at them from a distance of 
a few feet; then she wrapped her silk draperies closely 
around her and slid closer. She passed her hand over 
the fine texture of the coat, which was redolent of cigar 
smoke. She took up the hat. Then she spied the top 
card on the little china card-basket on the table, and 
took it up. It was Arthur Carroll's. She nodded her 
head, remained standing a moment listening to the in- 
audible murmur of conversation from the next room, 
then went up-stairs, to sit down in her old winged arm- 
chair, covered with a peacock-pattern chintz, and read 
until the visitor should be gone. She was fairly quiv- 
ering with astonishment and curiosity. But she was 
no more astonished than her son had been when he 
had opened the front -door and seen Arthur Carroll 

453 



THE DEBTOR 



standing there. He had almost doubted the evidence 
of his eyes, especially when Carroll had accepted his 
invitation to enter, and had removed his coat and hat 
and followed him into the sitting-room. 

"It is a cold night/' Anderson said, feeling that he 
must say something. 

"Very, for the season, " replied Carroll, "and I have 
not yet, in spite of my long residence North, grown 
sufficiently accustomed to the heated houses and un- 
heated out-of-doors to keep my top-coat on inside, even 
if I remain only a few minutes." 

The sumptuous lining of the coat gleamed as he laid 
it on the hall-table; there was something unconquerable, 
sumptuous, genial, undaunted yet about the man. He 
had the courtesy of a prince, this poor American who 
had lived by the exercise of his sharper wits on his 
neighbor's dull ones, if report said rightly. And yet 
Anderson, as he sat opposite Carroll, and they were both 
smoking in a comrade-like fashion, doubted. There was 
something in the man's face which seemed to belie 
the theory that he was a calculating knave. His face 
was keen, but not cunning, and, moreover, there was a 
strange, almost boyish, sanguineness about it which 
brought Eddy forcibly to mind. It was the face of a 
man who might dupe himself as well as others, and do 
it with generous enthusiasm and self-trust. It was the 
face of a man who might have bitter awakenings, as 
well as his dupes, but who might take the same fatuous, 
happy leaps to disaster again. And yet there was a 
certain strength, even nobility, in the face, and it was 
distinctly lovable, and in no weak sense. He looked 
very like Eddy as he sat there, and, curiously enough, 
he spoke almost at once of him. 

"I believe you were a friend of my son, Mr. Ander- 
son, 99 he remarked, with his pleasant, compelling smile. 

Anderson smiled in response. "I believe I had that 
454 



THE DEBTOR 



honor/' he replied. Then he said something about his 
having gone, and how much his father must miss him. 
"He is a fine little fellow," he added, and was almost 
surprised at the expression of positive gratitude which 
came into Carroll's eyes in response. He spoke, how- 
ever, with a kind of proud deprecation. 

"Oh, well, he is a boy yet, of course," he said, "but 
there is a man in him if fate doesn't put too many stum- 
bling-blocks in his way." 

"There is such a thing," said Anderson. 

"Undoubtedly," said Carroll. "Moral hurdles for the 
strengthening of the spirit are all very well, but occa- 
sionally there is a spirit ruined by them." 

"I think you are right," said Anderson; "still, when 
the spirit does make the hurdles — " 

"Oh yes, it is a very superior sort, after that," said 
Carroll, laughing; "but when it doesn't — Well, I 
hope the boy will have tasks proportioned to his strength, 
and I hope he will have a try at them all, anyhow." 

"He seems to me like a boy that would," Anderson 
said. "What do you think of making of him?" 

"I hardly know. It depends. His mother has al- 
ways talked a good deal about Eddy's studying law, 
but I don't know. Somehow the law has always seemed 
to me the road of success for the few and a slippery 
maze to nowhere for the many." 

A sudden thought seemed to strike Carrolf ; he looked 
a little disturbed. " By-the-way," he said, "I forgot. 
You yourself — " 

Anderson smiled. "Yes, I studied law," said he. 

"And gave it up?" 

"Yes. I could not make a living with it." 

Carroll regarded the other man with a curious, wist- 
ful scrutiny. He looked more and more like Eddy. 
His next question was as full of naivete as if the boy 
himself had asked it, and yet the charming, almost 

30 455 



THE DEBTOR 



courtly state of the man never for one instant failed. 
4 'And so," he said, "you tried selling butter and eggs 
instead of legal wisdom ?" The question might have 
been insolent from its purport, but it was not. 

Anderson laughed. "Yes," he replied. " People must 
eat to live, but they can live without legal wisdom. I 
found butter and eggs were more salable." 

Carroll continued to regard him with that pathetic, 
wondering curiosity. "And you have never regretted 
the change?" he asked. 

"I don't say that, but, regret or not, I had to make 
it, and — I am not exactly sure that I do regret it." 

"But this — this new occupation of yours cannot be 
— precisely congenial." 

"That does not disturb me," Anderson said, a little 
impatiently. 

Carroll looked at him with understanding. "I see 
you feel as I do about that," he said. " It is rather prov- 
ing one's self of the common to hold back too strenu- 
ously from it, and yet" — he hesitated a moment — "it 
takes courage, though," he said. Suddenly his eyes 
upon the other man became full of admiration. "My 
daughter tells me, or, rather, my son told me principally, 
that you are interested in entomology?" he said. 

"Oh, I dabble a little in it," Anderson replied, smil- 
ing. 

CarroH's*eyes upon him continued to hold their wist- 
ful questioning, admiring expression. Anderson be- 
gan to wonder what he had come for. He was puzzled 
by the whole affair. Carroll, too, seemed to present 
himself to him under a new guise. He wondered if his 
reverses had brought about the change. 

"I do not wish," said Carroll, "to display curiosity 
about affairs which do not concern me, and I trust you 
will pardon me and give me information, or not, as 
you choose; but may I ask how you happened, when 

4S 6 



THE DEBTOR 



you became convinced that you were not to make a 
success in law, why you chose your present business ?" 

"I have not the slightest objection to answering," 
said Anderson, although he began to' wonder if the 
other had called simply for the purpose of gratifying 
his curiosity about his affairs — ' 'not the slightest. I 
simply tried to think of something which I should be 
sure to sell, because people would be sure to buy, and 
I thought of — butter and cheese. It all seems exceed- 
ingly simple to me, the principle of obtaining enough 
money wherewith to live and buy the necessaries of life. 
It is only to look about and possibly within and see 
what wares you can command, for which people will 
be willing to give their own earnings. It is all a ques- 
tion of supply for the demand. First you must study 
the demand, and then your own power of supply. If 
you can interpret law like Rufus Choate, why, sell that; 
if you can edit like Horace Greeley, sell that; if you can 
act like Booth or sing like Patti, sell that; if you can 
dance like Carmencita, sell that. It all remains with 
you, what you can do, sing or dance, or sway a multi- 
tude, or sell butter and eggs; or possibly, rather, it re- 
mains with the public and what it decides you can do 
— that is better for one's vanity.' ! 

"Decidedly," agreed Carroll, with an odd, reflective 
expression. 

"If the public want your song or your novel or your 
speech, they will buy it, or your dance, and if they don't 
they won't, and you cannot make them. You have to 
sell what the public want to buy, for you yourself are 
only a unit in a goodly number of millions." 

"And yet how extremely all-pervading that unit can 
feel sometimes," Carroll said, with a laugh. 

He was silent again, puffing at his cigar, and again 
Anderson, leaning back opposite and also smoking, 
wondered why he was there. Then Carroll removed 

457 



THE DEBTOR 



his cigar and spoke. His voice was a little constrained, 
but he looked Anderson full in the face. 

"Mr. Anderson," he said, "I want to know if you 
will kindly tell me how much I owe you, for I am one 
of the consumers of butter and eggs." 

Anderson continued to smoke a second before answer- 
ing. "I cannot possibly tell you here, Mr. Carroll," 
he replied then. 

4 'Of course I know I should have written and asked 
for the bill," Carroll said, "but I knew some had been 
paid, and — you have been most kind, and — " 

Anderson waited. 

"In short," said Carroll, speaking quickly and 
brusquely, "I am under a cloud here, and — your mother 
called to see my daughter this afternoon, and I thought 
that possibly you would pardon me if I put it all on a 
little different basis." 

Carroll stopped, and again Anderson waited. He 
was becoming more and more puzzled. 

Then Carroll spoke quite to the point. "I could 
have sent for the bill which you have so generously not 
sent, which you have so generously allowed my poor, 
little daughter to think was settled," said he, "but if 
you had sent it I simply could not have paid it. I 
could have written you what I wished to say, but I 
thought I could say it better. I wish to say to you 
that I shall be obliged if you will let me know the ex- 
tent of my indebtedness to you, and if you will accept 
my note for six months." 

"Very well," said Anderson, gravely. 

" If you will have the bill made out and sent me to-mor- 
row, 1 will send you my note by return mail," said Carroll. 

"Very well, Mr. Carroll," replied Anderson. 

Carroll arose to go. "You have a pleasant home 
here, Mr. Anderson," he said, looking around the room 
with its air of old-fashioned comfort, even state. 

45S 



THE DEBTOR 



"It has always seemed pleasant to me," said Ander- 
son. An odd, kindly feeling for Carroll overcame him. 
He extended his hand. "I am glad you called, Captain 
Carroll," he said. He hesitated a moment. Then he 
added: "You will necessarily be lonely with your family 
away. If you would come in again — " 

"I cannot leave my daughter alone much," Carroll 
answered, "but otherwise I should be glad to. Thank 
you." He looked at Anderson with evident hesitation. 
There was something apparently which he was about to 
say, but doubted the wisdom of saying it. 

"Your daughter is still with you?" Anderson said. 

"Yes." 

Then Anderson hesitated a second. Then he spoke. 
"Would you allow me to call upon your daughter, 
Captain Carroll?" he asked, bluntly. 

Carroll's face paled as he looked at him. "On my 
daughter?" 

"Yes. Captain Carroll, will you be seated again for 
a few minutes. I have something I would like to say 
to you." 

Anderson was pale, but his voice was quite firm. He 
had a strange sensation as of a man who had begun a 
dreaded leap, and felt that in reality the worst was 
over, that the landing could in no way equal the shock 
of the start. Carroll followed him back into the sitting- 
room and sat down. 

Anderson began at once with no preface. "I should 
like to marry your daughter, if she can love me well 
enough," he said, simply. 

"Does she know you at all, Mr. Anderson?" Carroll 
said, in a dazed sort of fashion. 

"She knows me a little. I have, of course, seen her 
in my store." 

"Yes." 

"And once, as you may remember, she came here." 
459 



THE DEBTOR 



"Yes, when she had the fright from the tramp. 99 

"She cannot know me very well, I admit." 

"I don't see that you know her very well, either, for 
that matter." 

"I know her well enough," said Anderson. "I have 
no doubt as far as I am concerned. My only doubt is 
for her, not only whether she can care sufficiently for 
me, but whether, if she should care, it would be the 
best thing for her. I am much older than she. I can 
support her in comfort, but not in luxury, probably 
never in luxury; and you know my position, that I have 
been forced to abandon a profession which would give 
my wife a better social standing. You know all that; 
there is no need of my dwelling upon it." 

Anderson said that with an indescribable pride, and 
yet with a perfect acquiescence in the situation. He 
looked at Carroll, who remained quite pale, looking at 
him with an inscrutable expression of astonishment. 
Finally he smiled a little. 

"As they say in the comic column, this is so sudden, 
Mr. Anderson," he said. 

"I can well imagine so," Anderson replied, smiling 
in his turn. "It is rather sudden to me. Nothing 
was further from my intention than to say this to- 
night." 

Carroll looked at him soberly. "Mr. Anderson, it 
all depends upon the child," he said. "If Charlotte 
likes you, that is all there is to be said about it. You 
are a good man and you can take care of her. As far 
as the other goes, I have no right to say anything. 
Frankly, I should prefer that you had succeeded in 
your profession than in your present business, on her 
account." 

"So should I," said Anderson, gloomily. 
"But it is all for her to decide. Come and call, and 
let matters take their course. But — I shall say noth- 

460 



THE DEBTOR 



ing to her about this. A girl like Charlotte is a sensitive 
thing. Call and see. As far as I am concerned — " 
Carroll paused a second. Then he rose and held out 
his hand. "I have no reason whatever to object to 
you as a husband for my daughter, and my son-in-law/' 
he said. 

" Thank you," said Anderson. 

Carroll had gone out of the door, and Anderson was 
just about to close it after him, when he turned back. 
"By-the-way, Mr. Anderson," he said, and Anderson 
understood that he was about to say what had been on 
his mind before and he had refrained from expressing. 
"I want to inquire if you have any acquaintance with 
the large grocery house of Kidder & Ladd, in the 
City?" he asked. 

"A slight business acquaintance," replied Anderson, 
wonderingly. 

"I saw," said Carroll, in an odd, breathless sort of 
voice, an advertisement for a — floor-walker in that 
house. I wondered, in the event of my applying for 
it, if you would be willing to give me a letter of intro- 
duction to one of the firm, if you were sufficiently ac- 
quainted." 

"Certainly," said Anderson, but he was aware that 
he almost gasped out the answer. 

"I saw the advertisement," said Carroll again. "I 
have to make some change in my business, and" — he 
essayed a laugh — "I have to think, as we have agreed 
is the thing to do, of some salable wares in my pos- 
session. It did occur to me that I might make a pass- 
able floor-walker. I have even thought of a drum- 
major, but there seems no vacancy in that line. If you 
would." 

"Certainly," said Anderson again. "Would you like 
it now?" 

"If it is not too much trouble." 

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THE DEBTOR 



Anderson hastened to the old-fashioned secretary in 
the sitting-room and wrote a line of introduction on a 
card while Carroll waited. 

" Thank you," Carroll said, taking it and placing it 
carefully in his pocket - book. The two men shook 
hands again; Carroll went with his stately stride down 
the street. It was snowing a little. Anderson thought 
idly how he had not offered him an umbrella, as he saw 
the flakes driving past the electric light outside as he 
pulled down the window-curtains, but he was as yet 
too dazed to fully appreciate anything. He was dazed 
both by his own procedure and by that of the other 
man. It was as if two knights in a mock tourney had 
met, both riding at full speed. He had his own mo- 
mentum and that of the other in the shock of meeting. 

His mother's door opened as he went up-stairs with 
his night-lamp, and her head in a white lace-trimmed 
cap, for she still clung to the night-gear of her early 
youth, peered out at him. 

"Who was it?" she asked, softly, as if the guest were 
still within hearing. 

"Captain Carroll." 

"Oh!" 

"He came on business." 

"He stayed quite awhile. You had a little call with 
him?" 

"Yes, mother." 

She still looked at him, her face, of gentle, wistful 
curiosity, dimly visible between the lace ruffles of her 
nightcap, in the door. 

"He spoke of your calling there this afternoon, and 
he seemed much pleased," Anderson said. 

"Did he?" 

"Yes." 

"Well, good-night, dear," said Mrs. Anderson, with 
an odd, half-troubled but rather enjoyable sigh. Her 

462 



THE DEBTOR 



son kissed her, and she disappeared. She got back into 
bed, and put her lamp out. The electric light outside 
streamed into her room and brought back to her mind 
moonlight reveries of her early maidenhood. She re- 
membered how she used, before she ever had a lover, to 
lie awake and dream of one. Then she fell to planning 
how, in the event of Randolph's marrying, the front 
chamber could be refurnished, and the furniture in that 
room put in the northwest chamber, which was sparsely 
furnished and little used except for storage purposes. 
Then the northwest room could be the guest-chamber, 
and Randolph's present room would answer very well 
for his books, and would be a study when the bed was 
taken down. 

She had the front chamber completely refurnished 
when she fell asleep, and besides had some exciting and 
entirely victorious feminine tilts with sundry women 
friends who had ventured to intimate that her son had 
made an odd matrimonial choice. It was quite a cold 
night, and she wondered if that child had sufficient 
clothing on her bed. She was in reality, in her own way, 
as much in love with the girl as her son. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 



Carroll, in the ensuing weeks, living alone with 
Charlotte, endured a species of mental and spiritual 
torture which might have been compared with the rack 
and wheel of the Inquisition. It seemed to Arthur 
Carroll in those days as if torture was as truly one of 
the elements incumbent upon man's existence as fire, 
water, or air. He got an uncanny fancy that if it ceased 
he would cease. He had all his life, except in violent 
stresses, that happy, contented-with-the-sweet-of-the- 
moment temperament popularly supposed to be a char- 
acteristic of the butterfly over the rose. But deprive 
the butterfly of the rose and he might easily become a 
more tragic thing than any in existence. Now Car- 
roll was deprived of his rose, he could get absolutely 
none of the sweets out of existence from whence his 
own individuality manufactured its honey. Even Char- 
lotte's presence became an additional torment to him, 
dearly as he loved her and as thoroughly as he realized 
what her coming back had done for him, from what it 
had saved him. She had given him the impetus which 
placed him back in his normal condition, but, back 
there, he suffered even more, as a man will suffer less 
under a surgical operation than when the influence of 
the anesthetics has ceased. There was absolutely no 
ready money in the house during those weeks except 
the sum which Charlotte's aunt had sent her, which was 
fast diminishing, and a few scattering dollars, or rather, 
pennies, which Carroll picked up in ways which almost 

464 



THE DEBTOR 

unhinged his brain when he reflected upon them after- 
wards. Whatever he had done before, the man tried in 
those days every means to obtain an honest livelihood, 
except the one which he knew was always open, and 
from which he shrank with such repugnance that it seem- 
ed he could not even contemplate it and his mind retain 
his balance. In his uneasy sleep at night he often had 
a dream of that experience which had yielded him 
money, which might yield him money again. He saw 
before him the sea of faces, of the commonest Ameri- 
can type, of the type whose praise and applause mean 
always a certain disparagement. He saw his own face, 
his proud, white face with the skin and lineaments of 
a proud family, stained into the likeness of a despised 
race ; he heard his own tongue forsaking the pure Eng- 
lish of his fathers for the soft thickness of the negro, 
roaring the absurd sentimental songs ; he saw his own 
stately limbs contorted in the rollicking, barbaric dance 
— and awoke with a cold sweat over him. He knew all 
the time that that was all was left to him, but he 
snatched at everything. He could not obtain the floor- 
walker position of which he had spoken to Anderson. 
He thought that possibly his fine presence and urbane 
manner might recommend him for a place of that sort, 
but it was already filled. He went to several of the 
great department stores and inquired if there was a 
vacancy. He felt that the superintendents to whom 
he applied regarded his good points as he might have 
regarded the good points of a horse. One of them told 
him that if he would give his address, he would be 
given the preference whenever a vacancy occurred. 
Carroll knew that he was mentally appraised as a prom- 
ising person to direct ladies to ribbon and muslin counters. 
He looked at another floor-walker strutting up and down 
the aisle, and felt sure that he could do better, and all 
this amused contempt for himself deepened and bored 

465 



THE DEBTOR 

its way into his very soul. He always asked himself, 
with the demand of an unpitying judge, if he could not 
have done better for himself if he had begun at once, 
if he had not at the first failure drifted with no resistance, 
with the pleasant, easy, devil-may-careness which was 
in his nature along with the sterner stuff which was now 
upheaving and asserting itself, and taken what he could, 
how he could. He had not, after all, had an absolutely 
unhappy home, although it had been founded on the 
sands, and although that iron of hatred of the man who 
had done him the wrong had been always in his soul. 
The life he had led had been not one of active and volun- 
tary preying upon his fellow-men ; it had been only the 
life of one who must have the sweets of existence for 
himself and those he loved, and he had gotten them, 
even if the flowers and the fruit hung over the garden- 
walls of others. Now it suddenly seemed to him that 
he could no longer do it, as he had done, even if the 
owners of the fruit and flowers should be still unawares. 
Curiously enough, the old Pilgrim's Progress which he 
had read as a child was very forcibly in his mind in these 
days. He remembered the child that ate the fruit that 
hung over the wall, and how the gripes, in consequence, 
seized him. Something very like the conviction of sin 
was over the man, or, rather, a complete consciousness 
of himself and his deeds, which is, maybe, after all, the 
true meaning of the term. It was true that the self- 
knowledge had seemed to come, perforce, because it was 
temporarily out of his power to transgress farther; in 
other words, because he was completely found out; but 
all the same, the knowledge was there. He saw him- 
self just as he was, had been — a great man goaded on 
always by the small, never-ceasing prick of hatred, with 
the sense of injury always stinging his soul, living as 
he chose, having all that he could procure, utterly care- 
less whether at the expense and suffering of others or 

466 



THE DEBTOR 

not. Now, for the first time, he began to adjust him- 
self in the place of others, and the adjusting produced 
torment from the realization of their miseries, and worse 
torment from realization of his own contemptibility. 
It really seemed as it all positions which might have 
been in some keeping with the man and his antecedents 
were absolutely out of his reach Xot a night but he 
read the advertising columns until he was blind and 
dizzy Every morning he went to Xew York and 
hunted. The first morning he had taken the train, he 
had actually to assure some of his watchful creditors 
that he was going to return. Then all day he wandered 
about the streets, making one of long lines of applicants 
for the vacant positions. One morning he found him- 
self in the line with William Allbright. He recognized 
unmistakably the meek, bent back of the old clerk three 
ahead of him in the line. A book-keeper had been ad- 
vertised for in a large wholesale house, and there were 
perhaps forty applicants all awaiting their turn. His 
first impulse, when he caught sight of his old clerk, was 
to leave the line himself; then the nobility which was 
struggling for life within him asserted itself and made 
him ashamed of his shame. He stood still with his 
head a little higher, and moved on with the slowly mov- 
ing line of men which crawled towards the desk like a 
caterpillar. He saw Allbright turn away rejected with 
a feeling of pity; the old man looked dejected. Carroll 
reflected with a sensation of pride that at least he did 
not owe him. He himself was rejected promptly after 
he had owned to his age. The man four behind him 
was chosen. He was a very young man, scarcely more 
than a boy, unless his looks belied him. He was dis- 
tinctly handsome, with the boy-doll style of beauty — 
curly, dark hair, rosy cheeks, and a small, very care- 
fully tended mustache. He wore a very long and fash- 
ionable coat, and was evidently pleasantly conscious 

467 



THE DEBTOR 



of its flop around his ankles. His handsome face wore 
an expression of pert triumph as he passed on into the 
inner office. . . . Carroll, who had lingered with an idle 
curiosity to ascertain who was the successful applicant, 
heard a voice so near his ear that it whistled. The 
voice was exceedingly bitter, even malignant. 

"That's the way it goes, these times; that's the way 
it always goes," said the voice. 

Carroll turned and gazed at the speaker, a man prob- 
ably older than himself; if not, he looked older, since 
his hair was quite white and his carriage not so good. 

"The employers nowadays are a pack of fools, a pack 
of fools!" said the man. His long, rather handsome 
face, a face which should have been mild in its natural 
state was twisted into a thousand sardonic wrinkles. 
"A pack of fools!" he repeated. "Here they'll go and 
hire a little whippersnapper like that every time, instead 
of a man who has had experience and knows how to do 
the work, just because he's young. Young! What's 
that? You'd think what they wanted was a man to 
keep their books straight. I can keep books if I do say 
so, and that young snip can't. Lord! He was in Avin 
& Mann's with me. Why, I tell you he can't add up 
a column of figures three inches long straight, to save 
his neck. The books will be in a pretty state. I'll 
give him just ten days before they'll have to get an 
expert in to straighten out things. Hope they will; 
serve 'em right. Here I am, can't get a job to save my 
life, because my hair has turned and I've got a few 
more years over my head, and I can keep books better 
than I ever could in my life. Good Lord! You'd 
think it was what was inside a man's head they'd be 
after, instead of the outside." He looked at Carroll. 
"Guess I've got a little the advantage of you in age," 
he said, "but I suppose that's the matter why you were 
given the cold shoulder." 

468 



THE DEBTOR 



"I shouldn't be surprised if you were right, sir," 
replied Carroll, rather apathetically. He was going 
through all this without the slightest hope, but only for 
the sake of feeling that he had done his utmost before 
he took up with the alternative which so dismayed his 
very soul. He himself looked old that morning. He 
had retained his youthful appearance much longer than 
men usually do, but as he had viewed his reflection in the 
glass that morning he had said to himself that he at 
last was showing his years. His hair had turned visibly 
gray in the last few weeks ; lines had deepened ; and not 
only that, but the youthful fire had given place to the 
apathy and weary resignation of age. 

"But you look as if you could do more and better 
work in an hour than that young bob-squirt could in 
a month," said the man at his side. 

"Very likely," replied Carroll, indifferently. 

"You don't seem to care much about it," the other 
man said. The two had gone out of the building, and 
were walking slowly down the street. 

"If they want young men, they do, I suppose," Car- 
roll said. 

"Been trying long?" 

"Quite a time." 

"Well, the employers are a set of G. D. fools!" said 
the other man. An oath sounded horribly incongru- 
ous coming from his long, thin, benevolent mouth. 

" I don't see what you are going to do about it if they 
are," Carroll replied, still with that odd patience. It 
seemed to him as if he was getting a sort of fellow-feeling 
and intense personal knowledge of his fellow -beings, 
which united him to them with ties stronger than those 
of love. He felt as if he more than loved this rebellious 
wretch beside him, as if he were one with him, only pos- 
sessed of that patience which gave him a certain power 
to aid him. "I suppose men have the right to employ 

469 



THE DEBTOR 



whom they choose/ ' said Carroll. "If they prefer young 
men who don't know how to do the work, to old men 
who do, I suppose they have a right to engage them. 
And they may have some show of reason for it. I don't 
see what can be done, anyway." 

"I'll tell you what has got to be done, sir, and how we 
can help ourselves," returned the other, with a ranting 
voice which made people turn and stare at him. "I'll 
tell you. We've got to form a union. There are unions 
for everything else. We have got to have a union of 
older men qualified to work, who are shouldered out of 
it by boys. Once that is done, we are all right. To-day 
in this country a man can't hire whom he pleases in 
most things. The unions have put it out of his power. 
The people have risen. We belong to a part of the people 
who haven't risen. Now we must rise. Let us form a 
union, I say. If they engage young men before us, 
there are ways of making them smart for it, the em- 
ployers as well as the employes. I tell you that has got 
to be done." 

Suddenly the men heard a laugh behind them. It 
was a woman's laugh, shrill and not altogether pleasant — 
not the laugh of a young woman, but the woman who 
came up with and immediately began to speak looked 
quite young. She was undeniably pretty. Her blond 
pompadour drooped coquettishly over one eye, her 
cheeks were pink, her face smooth, her figure was really 
superb, and she was very well dressed, in a tailor-made 
gown, smart furs, and a hat evidently of the English- 
tailor make. 

"Excuse me," she said, with perfect assurance, and 
yet with nothing of offensive boldness, rather with an 
air of camaraderie, "but I heard you talking, you two, 
and I thought I would give you a few points. I don't 
know whether you know it or not, but I have recently 
secured the position of cashier there, in Adkins & 

470 



THE DEBTOR 

Somers's." She motioned with one nicely gloved hand 
back towards the place they had just left. "I got it 
in preference to about a dozen young girls, too," she 
said, with triumph, "but I shouldn't have if — " She 
hesitated a minute. The color on her cheeks deepened 
under the floating veil, and there was, in consequence, 
a curious effect of two shades of rose on her cheeks. 
"See here," she said, walking along with them, "I don't 
know you two men from Adam, and I needn't take the 
trouble, and if you don't like it you 4 can lump it, but 
I'm going to say something. I know I look young. I 
ain't fishing for a compliment. I know it. I've got a 
looking-glass in a good light, and I've got my eyes in 
my head, and, what's more, I'm spunky enough to own 
it to myself if I don't look young; but I ain't young. I 
ain't going to say how old I am, but I will say this 
much, I ain't young. I've been married twice and I've 
had three children. My first husband died, the second 
went off and left me. I've got a daughter fourteen 
years old I'm keeping in school. She ain't going into 
a department store, if I work my fingers to the bone." 
She said the last with a fierce air that made her for a 
second really look younger. "Well," she went on. 
"I'll tell you, too. I had a good place for a number 
of years, but the man died in September, and the man 
that took the business put his sister in my place. Then 
I was out of a job. I hadn't saved a cent, and I didn't 
know what I was going to do. Mildred — that's my 
daughter — is big of her age and good-looking, and she 
wanted to leave school and go to work, but I wouldn't 
let her. Well, I studied up all the advertisements and 
I tried, and I couldn't do a thing. Then I set my wits 
to work. I ain't one to give up in a hurry ; I never was. 
As I said before, I didn't have much money, but I hire 
our little flat of a woman, and she's a good sort, and 
she's willing to wait, and a month ago I took every cent 
a* 471 



THE DEBTOR 



I could raise and I went through a course of treatment 
with a beauty-doctor. I had my hair (it was turned 
some) dyed, and I was massaged until I felt like a cur- 
rant-bun, but I always had a good skin, and there was 
something to work on, and I took my figure in hand; 
that wasn't very bad, anyway, but I got new corsets, 
awful expensive ones, and had a tailor suit made. I 
had to raise some money on a little jewelry I had, but 
I made up my mind it was neck or nothing, and, sir, 
a month ago I got that place in Adkins & Somers's at 
a thousand a year. They are good men, too. You 
needn't think there's anything wrong." She looked at 
them with an expression as if she was ready to spring 
at the slightest intimation of distrust on their part. 
"It is only just that people think they want young help 
and they are going to have it. I've got the place and 
I'm in clover, and it's worth something looking so much 
better, though it don't make much difference to me. 
All I care about nowadays is my daughter." 

The two men looked at the woman, Carroll with a 
courteous sympathy, and the interest of an observer of 
human nature. She was of a pronounced American 
type, coarse, vulgar, strident -voiced, smart, with a 
shrewdly working brain and of an unimpeachable heart. 
She was generosity and honesty itself, as she looked at 
the two men in a similar strait to the one from which 
she had extricated herself. 

The other man, who had a bitter, possibly a danger- 
ous strain developed by his misfortunes, laughed sar- 
donically. "How long do you think you can keep it 
up?" said he. "Hm?" Had he been less worn and 
weary, and apparently even starved, his laugh and ques- 
tion would have evoked a sharper response. As it was, 
the woman replied with the utmost good-nature. 

"Any old time," said she. "Lord! I ain't setting 
up for a kid. I ain't fool enough to put on short skirts 

472 



THE DEBTOR 



and pigtails, but I am setting up for a young lady, and I 
can keep it up, anyhow. Lord! I ain't so very old, 
anyhow. If I didn't look the way I do now, I couldn't 
get a position, because they'd put me down for a back- 
number; but I had something left for that beauty-doctor 
to work on." Then she gazed critically at the two men. 
"It wouldn't take much to make you into a regular 
dude," said she to Carroll. "You are dressed to beat 
the band as it is. Say!" She gave him a confidential 
wink. 

"Well?" said Carroll. 

"You are dressed most too well. It's all very well 
to look stylish, to look as if you had been earning 
twenty-five hundred a year, but, Lord! you look as if 
you had been getting ten! The bosses might be a little 
afraid of you. They might say they didn't see how a 
man could have dressed like you do, unless he had helped 
himself to some of the firm's cash. See? I don't mean 
any offence. You look to me like a real gentleman." 

"Thank you," replied Carroll. 

"If I was you I'd put on a pair of pants not quite 
so nicely creased, and I'd sell that overcoat and get a 
good-style ready-made one. Your chances would be 
a heap better — honest." 

"Thank you," said Carroll, again. He was conscious 
of amusement and a curious sense of a mental tonic from 
this loud-voiced, eagerly helpful female. 

"I'm right, you bet," said she. "But otherwise it 
wouldn't take much. You go and have a little some- 
thing put on your hair, and have your face massaged 
a little, and if I was you I'd buy a red tie. You can get 
a dandy red tie at Steele & Esterbrook's for a quarter. 
That one you have on makes you look kinder pale. 
Then a red tie is younger. Say, I'll tell you, if you would 
only have your mustache trimmed, and wax the ends, 
it would make no end of difference." 

473 



THE DEBTOR 



" What are you going to do when you are asked how 
old you are? Lie? ,r inquired the other man, in his bit- 
ter, sardonic voice. 

This time the woman regarded him with slight in- 
dignation. "Say," said she, "you'll never get a place 
if you don't act pleasanter. Places ain't to be got that 
way, I can tell you. You've got to act as if you'd eat 
nothin' but butter an' honey for a fortnight. If you 
feel mad, you'd better keep it in your insides." Then 
she answered his questions. "No, I ain't goin' to lie, 
and I ain't goin' to tell anybody else to lie," said she. 
"Lying ain't my style. But it ain't anybody's busi- 
ness how old you are, anyhow. I don't know what right 
a man that I go to get a place from has got to ask how 
old I be. All he has any right to know is whether I ain't 
too old to do my work. I don't lie; no, siree. All I say 
is, and kinder laugh, 'Well, call it twenty-five,' or you 
might call it thirty, and with some, again, you might 
call it thirty-two or three. That ain't lyin' if I know 
what lyin' is." As the woman spoke her face assumed 
precisely the mischievous, challenging smile with which 
she had replied to similar questions. Carroll laughed, 
and the other man also, although grudgingly. 

"Well," he said, "there's different ways of looking 
at a lie." 

" It wouldn't be any manner of use for you to say you 
wouldn't see twenty-eight again, no matter how much 
you got fixed up." the woman retorted. "But I guess 
you can get something, if it ain't quite so good. I have 
a gentleman friend who is over fifty and who said he was 
thirty-seven, and he got a dandy place last week. But 
I tell you you'll have to hustle more'n this other gentle- 
man. You're bald, ain't you?" 

"I don't know what that has got to do w r ith it," 
growled the man, and he tried to quicken his pace; but 
she kept up with him. 

474 



THE DEBTOR 

"It's got a good deal to do with it," said she. "I 
know a place on Sixth Avenue where you can get an 
elegant front-piece that nobody could ever tell, for three 
dollars and forty-nine cents. Another gentleman friend 
of mine — he's a sort of relation of mine; my sister was 
his first wife — got one there. Yes, sir, you'll have to 
get one, and you'll have to get your face massaged and 
your eyebrows blacked, and, Lord! you'll have to have 
that beard shaved off and have a mustache, if you get 
anything at all. Lord! you look as if you'd come right 
out of the Old Testament. I don't see why you're wast- 
ing your time hanging around offices for, without you 
see to that, first of all. I should think your wife would 
tell you, but I suppose she's the same sort. Now as for 
you," she added, turning again to Carroll, "if you just 
get polished up a little bit — say, here's the card of my 
beauty-doctor" (she produced a card from an ornate 
wrist-bag) — "you'll look dandy." 

Suddenly the woman, with a quick good-bye, turned 
to cross Broadway, but her good-nature and sympathy 
had something fine and inexhaustible, for even then 
she turned back to look encouragingly upon the older, 
soured, bitter, ungrateful man with Carroll, and she 
said: "You go 'long with him, and I guess you'll get a 
place, too. Good-bye." 

With that she was gone, passing as straight as if she 
owned an unassailable right of way through the press 
of vehicles. Just as she gained the opposite sidewalk 
a fire-engine thundered up. 

"She had a close call from that," Carroll said. His 
face had altered. He still looked amused. 

"That woman couldn't get run over if she tried," 
sad the other man. 

"There ain't nothing made in the country that can 
run over her. It's women like her that's keeping men 
out of the places that belong to them by right." 

475 



THE DEBTOR 



"I am afraid there was some truth in her theory and 
her advice," Carroll said, laughing, and looking after 
the second engine clanging through the scattering crowd. 

"Well, I guess when I go to buying women's frizzes 
to wear to get a place, she'll know it," said the other 
man. "Good lord! if it's the outside of the head they 
want, why don't they get dummies and done with it? 
I tell you what is needed is a new union." 

Just at that moment they reached a restaurant from 
which came an odor of soup. Carroll turned to his 
companion. "I am going in here to get some lunch," 
he said. "I don't know whac kind of a place it is, but 
if you will go with me, I shall take pleasure in — " 

But the man turned upon him fiercely. "I 'ain't got 
quite so low yet that I have to eat at another man's 
expense," he said. "You needn't think, because you 
wear a better coat than I do, that — " The man stopped 
and nodded his head, speechless, and went on, and was 
out of sight, but Carroll had seen tears in the angry eyes. 

He went into the restaurant, took a seat at a table, 
and ordered a bowl of tomato-soup. As he was sipping 
it he heard a voice pronounce his name, and, glancing 
up, saw two pretty girls and a young man at a near-by 
table. He recognized the young man as the one who 
had been lately in his employ. About the girls he was 
not so sure, but he thought they were the same who 
had come to Banbridge to plead for their payment. 
They all bowed to him, and he returned the salutation. 
They all had a severe and, at the same time, curious 
expression. One of the girls whispered to the other, 
and although the words were not audible, the sharp 
hiss reached Carroll's ears. 

"Wonder what he's doing in this place," she said. 

"The other girl, the elder, craned her neck and ob- 
served what Carroll was eating. "He hasn't got any- 
thing but a bowl of tomato-soup," she replied. 

476 



THE DEBTOR 

"S'pose he's goin' through the whole bill," said the 
young man. The three were themselves lunching fru- 
gally. One of the girls had also a bowl of tomato-soup, 
the other a large piece of squash-pie. The young man 
had a ham sandwich and a cup of coffee. Smoking 
was allowed in the place, and the atmosphere was thick 
with cigarette smoke, and a warm, greasy scent of boil- 
ing and frying. Carroll continued to eat his soup. 
The three at the other table had nearly finished their 
luncheons when he entered. Presently they rose and 
passed him. The young man stopped. He paled a 
little. His old awe of Carroll was over him. In spite 
of himself, the worshipful admiration he had had for 
the man still influenced him. The poor young fellow, 
whose very pertness and braggadocio were simple and 
childlike, really felt towards the older man who had 
been his employer much as a faithful retainer towards 
a feudal baron. His feeling towards him was something 
between love and an enormous mental worship. His 
little, ordinary soul seemed to flatten itself like an 
Oriental before his emperor when he spoke to Carroll 
sipping his bowl of tomato-soup in the cheap restaurant. 
He had, after all, that nobility of soul which altered 
circumstances could not affect. He was just as defer- 
ential as if Carroll had been seated at a table in Del- 
monico's, but the fact remained that he was about to 
ask him again for his money. He was horribly pressed. 
He had obtained another position in one of the depart- 
ment stores, which paid him very little, and he was in 
debt, while his clothes were in such a degree of shabbi- 
ness that they were fairly precarious. The very night 
before he had sat up until midnight mending a rent in 
his trousers, which he afterwards inked ; and as for his 
overcoat, he always removed that with a sleight-of- 
hand lest its ragged lining become evident, and when 
ladies were about he put it on in an agony lest his arms 

477 



THE DEBTOR 



catch in the rents. He had even meditated cutting out 
the lining altogether, although he had a cold. He was 
so in debt that he had stopped eating breakfast; and 
the leaving off of breakfast for other than hygienic rea- 
sons, and when it has not been preceded by a heavy 
dinner the night before, is not conducive to comfort. 
So he bent low over Carroll and asked him in a small 
voice of the most delicate consideration, if he could let 
him have a little on account. 

Carroll had turned quite white when he approached 
him, but his regard of him was unswerving. "It is im- 
possible for me to-day, Mr. Day," he replied, "but I 
assure you that you shall have every cent in the 
end." 

The tears actually sprang into the young fellow's 
nervously winking eyes. "It would be a great accom- 
modation," he said, in the same low tone. 

"You shall have every cent as soon as I can possibly 
manage it," Carroll repeated. 

"I have a position, but it does not pay me very much 
yet," said the young fellow, "and — and — I am owing 
considerable, and — I need some things." 

His involuntary shrug of his narrow shoulders in 
his poor coat spoke as loudly as words. 

Carroll was directly conscious in an odd, angry, con- 
temptuous sort of fashion, and whether because of him- 
self, or of that other man, or of an overruling Provi- 
dence, he would have been puzzled to say, of his own 
outer garment of the finest cloth and most irreproach- 
able make. "As soon as I can manage it, every cent," 
he repeated, almost mechanically, and took another sip 
of his soup. The young fellow's winking eyes, full of 
tears, were putting him to an ignominious torture. 

The two girls had stood close behind the young man, 
waiting their turns. Now the younger stepped forward, 
and she spoke quite audibly in her high-pitched voice. 

478 



THE DEBTOR 



" Good -morning, Mr. Carroll," said she, with a strained 
pertness of manner. 

' ' Good - morning, ' ' Carroll returned , politely. He 
half arose from the table. 

The girl giggled nervously. Her pretty, even beau- 
tiful face, under her crest of blond hair and the scoop 
of a bright red hat, paled and flushed. "Oh, don't 
stop your luncheon/' said she. "Go right on. I just 
wanted to ask if you could possibly — " 

"I am very sorry," Carroll replied, "but to-day it is 
impossible; but in the end you shall not lose one dollar." 

The girl pouted. Her beauty gave her some power 
of self-assertion, although in reality she was of an ex- 
ceedingly mild and gentle sort. 

"That is very well," said she, "but how long do you 
think it will be before we get to the end, Mr. Carroll?" 

"I hope not very long," Carroll said, with a miser- 
able patience. 

"It had better not be very long," said she, and sud- 
denly her high voice pitched to tragedy. "If — if — I 
can't get another place that's decent for a girl to take," 
said she, " and if I don't get what's owing me before long, 
I shall either have to take one of them places or get a 
dose." She said the last word with an indescribably 
hideous significance. Her blue eyes seemed to blaze 
at Carroll. 

Then the other girl pressed closer. "You needn't 
talk that way," said she to the girl. "You know that 
I—" 

"I ain't goin' to live on you," returned the other girl, 
violently. People were beginning to look at the group. 

"Now, you know, May," said the other girl, "my 
room is plenty big enough for two, and I'm earning 
plenty to give you a bite till you get a place yourself, 
and you know you may get that place you went to see 
about yesterday." 

479 



THE DEBTOR 



"No, I won't, " said May. "It seems to me it's 
pretty hard lines that a poor girl can't get the money 
she's worked as hard for as I have." 

The other girl pushed herself in front of May and 
spoke to Carroll, and there was something womanly and 
beautiful in her face. "I have a real good place," she 
said, in a low voice, and she enunciated like a lady. "A 
real good place, and I'll look out for May till she gets 
one, and I can wait until you are able to pay me." 

"I will pay you all as soon as possible. I give you 
all my word I will pay you in the end," said Carroll. 

He seemed to see the three go out in a sort of dream. 
It did not really seem to him that it was he, Arthur 
Carroll, who was sitting there in that smoking, greasy 
atmosphere, before that table covered with a stained 
cloth, over which the waiter had ostentatiously spread 
a damp napkin, with that bowl of canned tomato-soup 
before him, and that thick cup of coffee, with those three 
unhappy young creditors, who had reviled and, worse 
than reviled, pitied him, passing out, with the open 
glances of amused curiosity fastened upon him on every 
side. 

"Guess that dude is down on his luck," he heard a 
young man at his left say. 

"Guess he put the money he'd ought to have paid 
that young lady with into his overcoat," his companion, 
a girl with a picture-hat, and a wide lace collar over her 
coat, responded. 

Carroll felt that he was overwhelmed, beaten, at bay 
before utter ignominy. The thought flashed across him, 
as he tried to swallow some more of the soup, that in 
some respects, if he had been a murderer or a great 
bank defaulter with detectives on his track, the situa- 
tion would at least have been more endurable. The 
horrible pettiness of it all, constituted the maddening 
sting of it. While he was thinking this the girl they called 

480 



THE DEBTOR 



May came flying back, her blond crest bobbing, her 
cheeks blazing. She looked like a beautiful and exceed- 
ingly vulgar little fury. She came close to Carroll, 
while the other girl's voice was heard at the door plead- 
ing with her to come back. 

" I won't come back till I have said my say, so there!" 
she called back. Then she addressed Carroll very loud- 
ly. She was transformed for the time. Hysteria had 
her in its clutch. She was half-fed, half-clothed, made 
desperate by repeated failures. There was also a love 
affair in the background. She was, in reality, not so 
very far removed from the carbolic - acid crisis. "I 
say," said she. "I say, you! You'd better look out! 
You'd better pony up pretty quickly or you'll get into 
trouble you don't count on. There was a man at the 
office that morning after you quit, and if he should hap- 
pen to walk in here and see you, you'd have a policeman 
after you. You'd better look out!" 

Carroll felt his face flush hot. For the first time in 
his life he was conscious of being actually down. He 
realized the sensation of the under dog, and he realized 
his utter helplessness, his utter lack of defence against 
this small, pretty girl who was attacking him. Every- 
body in the place seemed listening. Some of the peo- 
ple at the farther tables came nearer, other's were 
craning their necks. The girl gave her head an inde- 
scribable toss, at once vicious, coquettish, and trium- 
phant. Her blond crest tossed, the scoop of her red 
hat rocked. 

"I thought I'd just tell you," said she. Then she 
marched, holding her skirts tightly around her, with a 
disclosure of embroidered ruffles and the contour of 
pretty hips, and there was a shout of laughter in the 
place. Carroll pushed away his bowl of soup and turned 
to a grinning waiter near him. 

"My check," he said. 

481 



THE DEBTOR 



"I ain't your waiter, " replied the man, insolently. 

" Bring me my check for this soup and coffee, " re- 
peated Carroll, and the man started. There was some- 
thing in his look and tone that commanded respect even 
in this absurdity. In reality, for the time, he was al- 
most a madman. His fixed idea reasserted itself. At 
that moment, if it had been possible that his enemy, 
the man who had precipitated all this upon him, could 
have entered the room, there would have been murder 
done, and again for the moment his mind overlapped 
on the wrong side of life, and the desire for death was 
upon him. There was that in his face which hushed the 
laughter. 

"They had better not hound that man much farther,' ' 
one man at the table on the right whispered to his com- 
panion, who nodded, with sharp eyes on Carroll's face. 
They were both newspaper-men. 

When Carroll had paid his bill and passed out, one of 
the men, young and clean-shaven, pressed close to his side. 

"Pardon me, sir," he said, "but if you would allow 
me to express my regrets and sympathy — 99 

"No regrets nor sympathy are required, thank you, 
sir," replied Carroll. 

"If I could be of any assistance," persisted the man, 
who was short in his weekly column and not easily 
daunted. 

"No assistance is required, thank you, sir," replied 
Carroll. 

The man retreated, and rejoined his companion at 
the table. 

"Get anything out of him?" asked the other. 

"No, but I can make something out of him, I guess." 

"Poor devil!" said the other man. 

"It might have paid to shadow him," said the first 
man, thoughtfully. "I shouldn't wonder if he took a 
bee-line for a drug-store. He looked desperate." 

482 



THE DEBTOR 



"Or perhaps the park. He looks like the sort that 
might have a pistol around somewhere." 

This man actually, after a second's reflection, left his 
luncheon and hastened after Carroll, but he did not find 
him. Carroll had recovered himself and had taken the 
Elevated up - town to answer another advertisement. 
That was one for a book-keeper, and there was also un- 
successful. Coming out, he stood on the corner, looking 
at his list. He had written down nearly every want in 
the advertising columns. Actually he had even thought 
of trying for a position as coachman. He certainly 
could drive and could care for horses, and he considered 
quite impartially that he might make a good appear- 
ance in a livery on a fashionable turn-out. He had left 
now on his list only two which he had not tried ; one was 
for a superintendent to care for a certain public build- 
ing, a small museum. He had really a somewhat better 
chance there, apparently, for he had at one time known 
one of the trustees quite well. For that very reason he 
had put it off until the last, for he dreaded meeting an 
old acquaintance, and, too, there was a chance, though 
not a very good one, that the acquaintance might work 
harm instead of advantage. Still, the trustee had been 
in Europe for several years past, and the chances were 
that he would know nothing derogatory to Carroll which 
would interfere with his obtaining the position. 

He reached the building, took the elevator to the 
floor on which was situated the offices, and, curiously 
enough, the first person he saw, on emerging from the 
elevator, was the man whom he knew, waiting to ascend. 
The man, whose name was Fowler, recognized him at 
once, and greeted him, but with constraint. Carroll 
immediately understood that in some unforeseen way 
the news which travels in circles in this small w T orld had 
reached the other. He saw that he knew of his record 
during the last years. 

483 



THE DEBTOR 



"I have not seen you for a number of years, Mr. 
Carroll,' ' said Fowler. 

"No," replied Carroll, trying to speak coolly, "but 
that is easily accounted for; you have been abroad most 
of the time, living in London, have you not?" 

"Yes, for seven years," replied the other, "but now 
I am home in my native land to end my days." Fowler 
was quite an elderly man, and remarkably distinguished 
in appearance, clean - featured and white-haired — in- 
deed, he had cut quite a considerable figure in certain 
circles on the other side. He was even taller than Car- 
roll, and portly in spite of the sharpness of his features. 

"You are glad to be back in America?" Carroll said; 
he was almost forgetting, for the moment, the object 
of his visit to the place. He had years ago been on 
terms of social intimacy with this man. 

"If I were not I would not say so," replied Fowler, 
with a diplomatic smile. "I do not disparage my 
country nor give another the preference in my speech, 
until I deliberately take out naturalization papers else- 
where." 

Carroll smiled. 

"By-the-way," said Fowler, whose handsome face 
had hard lines which appeared from time to time from 
beneath his polished surface-urbanity, "I have not seen 
you for perhaps ten years, Mr. Carroll, but I heard from 
you in an out-of-the-way place — that is, if anything is 
out of the way in these days. It was in a little Arab 
village in Egypt. I was going down the Nile with a 
party, and something went wrong with the boat and we 
had to stop for repairs; and there I found — quartered 
in a most amazing studio which he had rigged up for 
himself out of a native hut and hung with things which 
looked to me like nightmares, and making studies of 
the native Egyptians — and I must say he seemed to 
be doing some fine work at last — Evan Dodge." 

484 



THE DEBTOR 



Carroll understood then, perfectly, but he took it 
calmly. "I always felt that Dodge had genuine 
ability,' 9 he said. 

"He has the ability to strike twelve, but not to 
strike it often," said Fowler. "However, all his mod- 
els in that place striking twelve made it easier for 
him. His work was good, and I think it will be heard 
from. He had some good tea, and a tea-kettle, and he 
made us a cup, and we talked over the home news, 
Dodge and I and two other gentlemen and three ladies 
of the party. You see, Dodge was comparatively fresh, 
from home. He had only been quartered there about 
a month." 

"Yes," said Carroll. 

"He spoke of seeing you quite recently. He said 
he had had a studio the summer before in Hillfield, 
where I believe you were living at the time." Nothing 
could have excelled the smoothness and even sweetness 
of Fowler's tone and manner; nothing could have ex- 
celled the mercilessness of his blue eyes beneath rather 
heavy lids, and the lines of his fine mouth. 

"Yes, he did have a studio there," assented Carroll. 

"I believe that is quite a picturesque country about 
there." 

"Quite picturesque." 

"Well, Dodge did not make a mistake going so far 
afield, though, for, after all, his specialty is the human 
figure, and here it is only trees that are not altered 
in their contour by the fashions. Yes, he was doing 
some really fine work. There was one study of a 
child—" 

"He made one very good thing in Hillfield," said 
Carroll, "a view from the top of a sort of half -mountain 
there. I believe he sold it for a large price." 

"Well, I am glad of that," said Fowler. "Dodge has 
always been hampered in that way. Yes, he told me all 

485 



THE DEBTOR 



the news, and especially mentioned having lived in the 
same village with you." 

"Yes," said Carroll, with the dignity of a dauntless 
spirit on the rack. 

"I hope your wife and family are well," said Fowler, 
further. 

"Quite well, thank you." 

"Let me see — you are living in New York now?" 
"No, I am at present in Banbridge." 
"Banbridge?" 
"In New Jersey." 

"Let me see — your family consists of your wife and a 
daughter and son?" 

"Two daughters and a son. One daughter married, 
last September, Major Arms." 

"Arms? Oh, I know him. A fine man." Fowler 
regarded Carroll with a slight show of respect. "But," 
he said, "I thought — Major Arms is nearly quite your 
age, is he not?" 

"He is much older than Ina, but she seemed very 
fond of him." 

"Well, she has a fine man for a husband," said Fow- 
ler, still with the air of respect. "Your son is quite a 
boy now?" 

"He is only ten." 

"Hardly more than a child." 

"My wife and son and my sister are at present in 
Kentucky with my wife's aunt, Miss Dunois; only my 
younger daughter is with me in Banbridge." 

"Catherine Dunois?" 

"Yes." 

"I used to know her very well. She was a beauty, 
with the spirit of a duchess." 

"The spirit still survives," said Carroll, smiling. 
"She must be quite old." 
"Nearly eighty." 

486 



THE DEBTOR 



The elevator going up stopped in response to a signal 
from Fowler. He extended his hand. "Well, good- 
day, " said Fowler. "I am glad we chanced to meet." 

"Well, it is a small world/' replied Carroll, smiling. 
"The chances for meeting are much better than they 
would be, say, in Mars. ,, 

"Much better, and for hearing, also. Good-day. ,, 

"Good-day." 

Carroll saw the elevator with its open sides of filigree 
iron, ascending, and the expression upon Fowler's calm, 
handsome face, gazing backward at him, was unmis- 
takable. It was even mocking. 

Carroll touched the electric button of one of the 
downward elevators, and was soon carried rapidly down 
to the street door. He felt, as he gained the street, 
that he would rather starve to death than ask a favor 
of Fowler. He did not ask for pity, or even sympathy, 
in his downfall, but he did ask for recognition of it as 
a common accident that might befall mankind, and a 
consequent passing by with at least the toleration of in- 
difference from those not actively concerned in it ; but in 
this man's face had been something like exultation, even 
gloating, Carroll thought to himself, as he went down 
the street, in the childish way that Eddy might have 
done, with a sort of wonder, reflecting that he never in 
his life, that he could remember, had done Fowler, even 
indirectly, a bad turn. He might easily have been 
totally indifferent to his misfortunes, to his failings, but 
why should they have pleased him? 

Carroll walked rapidly along the street until he 
reached Broadway again. It was a strange day; a sort 
of snow-fog was abroad. The air was dense and white. 
Now and then a mist of sleet fell, and the sidewalks were 
horribly treacherous. The children enjoyed it, and there 
were many boys and a few girls with tossing hair sliding 
along with cries of merriment. 

32 487 



THE DEBTOR 



Carroll thought of Eddy as one little fellow, who did 
not look unlike him, fairly slid into his arms. 

"Look out, my boy," Carroll said, good-humoredly, 
keeping him from falling, and the little fellow raised his 
cap with a charming blush and a " Beg your pardon, 
sir." A miserable home-sickness for them came over 
Carroll as he passed on. He longed for the sight of his 
boy, or his wife and Anna. He had grown, in a manner, 
accustomed to Ina being away. There is something 
about marriage and the absence it causes that brings 
one into the state of acquiescence concerning death. 
But he longed for the others, and he thought of his poor 
little Charlotte at home all day, and her loneliness. He 
looked at his watch, and realized that he must hurry if 
he caught the train which would take him to Banbridge 
at six o'clock. He had one more place on his list, and 
that was far up - town. He crossed to the Elevated 
station and boarded the first up-town train. What he 
was about to do was, in a way, so monstrous, taking 
into consideration his antecedents, his bringing-up, and 
all his forebears, that it had to his mind the grotesque- 
ness of a gargoyle on his house of life. He was now 
going to apply for the last position on his list, that of 
a coachman for a gentleman, presumably of wealth, in 
Harlem. The name was quite unknown to him. It 
was German. He thought to himself in all probability 
the owner was Jewish. This was absolutely his last 
venture. He chose this as he would choose anything 
in preference to the one which was always within reach. 
As the train sped along he fell to thinking of himself in 
this position for which he was about to apply. He 
imagined himself in livery sitting with a pair of sleek 
bays well in hand. He reflected that at least he could 
do his work well. He wondered idly about the ques- 
tions he would be asked. He considered suddenly that 
he must have a reference for a place of this sort, and 

488 



THE DEBTOR 

he tore a leaf out of his note-book, took out his stylo- 
graphic pen, and scribbled a reference, signing his own 
name. He reflected, as he did so, that it was odd that 
he, who had employed so many doubtful methods to 
gain financial ends, should feel an inward qualm at the 
proceeding. Still, he was somewhat amused at the 
thought that Mr. A. Baumstein might write to him at 
Banbridge, arid he should in that case reply, repeating 
his own list of qualifications for the place. He won- 
dered if they would ask if he were married, if they 
would prefer him married, if he drank, if he would be 
forbidden to smoke in the stables. He considered all 
the questions which he should be likely to ask himself, 
in a similar case. He got a curious feeling as if he were 
having an experience like Alice in Wonderland, as if 
he were in reality going in at the back of his own ex- 
periences, gaining the further side of his moon. He 
began to be almost impatient to reach his station and 
see the outcome of it all. Strangely enough, he never 
reflected on the good advice which the young woman 
that morning had given him as to the undesirable gen- 
tility of his general appearance. He never considered 
that as a drawback. When he reached his station he 
got off the train, went down the stairs, crossed the 
avenue, and up a block to the next street. When he 
found the number of which he was in search he hesitated 
a second. He wondered at what door he should apply. 
It manifestly could not be the front door. He therefore 
went farther down the street and gained the one running 
parallel, by which means he could reach the rear entrance 
of the house. It had no basement entrance under the 
front door. It was a new building, and quite pretentious, 
the most pretentious of a new and pretentious block. 
He traversed the small back yard, bending his stately 
head under a grove of servants' clothes which were 
swinging whitely from a net-work of lines, and knocked 

489 



THE DEBTOR 



on the door. His knock was answered by a woman, 
presumably a cook, and she looked like a Swede. Un- 
accountably to him, she started back with a look of 
alarm and nearly closed the door, and inquired in good 
English, with a little accent, what he wanted. Carroll 
raised his hat and explained. 

" I saw an advertisement for a coachman," he said, 
briefly, "and I have come to apply for the place if it is 
not already filled." 

To his utter amazement the door was closed violently 
in his face, and he distinctly heard the bolt shot. He 
was completely at a loss to account for such a proceed- 
ing. He remained standing, staring at the blank front 
of the door, and a light flashed across the room inside 
and caused him to look at the windows. The light had 
been carried into a room at the back, but he saw in the 
pale dimness of the kitchen a group of women and one 
boy, and they were all staring out at him. Then the 
boy started on a run across the room, and he heard a door 
slam. Carroll waited. He could not imagine what it 
was all about, and a feeling of desperation was coming 
over him. It seemed to him that he must find some- 
thing to do, that he could not go home again. The 
position of coachman began to seem desirable to him. 
Charlotte need not know what he was doing; no one 
need know. He had resolved to give another name, 
and he would soon find another position. This would 
be a makeshift. In this he could at least keep himself 
to himself. He need associate with nothing except the 
horses, and they were likely to be thorough-breds. It 
would not, after all, be half so bad as some other things — 
guiding superb horses through the streets and waiting 
at doors for his employers. To his mind, a coachman — 
that is, a City coachman — wears always more or less of 
a mask of stiff attention to duty. He could hide be- 
hind this mask. In reality, Carroll was almost at the 

490 



THE DEBTOR 



end of his strength. His pride had suddenly become a 
forgotten thing. He was wretchedly worn out, and, in 
fact, he was hungry, almost famished. He had eaten 
very little lately, and poor Charlotte, in truth, knew 
little about cookery. He, in reality, became for the 
time what in one sense he was impersonating. He be- 
came a coachman in dire need of a job. Therefore he 
waited. He reflected, while he waited, that if they did 
not hurry he would miss his train and Charlotte would 
worry. In case he secured the position she would cer- 
tainly have to join the others in Kentucky; there would 
be no other way, for he would be obliged to remain in 
the City over night. 

All at once the door before him was swung violently 
open and a gentleman stood there. Carroll felt at once 
that he was Mr. A. Baumstein. 

"What do you want, sir?" inquired the gentleman, 
and his tone was distinctly hostile, although he looked 
like a well-bred man, and it seemed puzzling that he 
thus received an answer to his application. 

"I saw your advertisement, sir — " Carroll began. 

"My advertisement for what, pray?" repeated Mr. 
Baumstein. 

"For a coachman," replied Carroll, "and I thought 
if you had not already secured one — " 

"Clear out, or I will call a policeman!" thundered 
Mr. Baumstein, and again the door was slammed in his 
face. 

Carroll then understood. A gentleman who would 
have been presentable at the Waldorf - Astoria, at a 
gentleman's area door applying for a position as coach- 
man, was highly suspicious. He understood readily how 
he would have looked at the matter had the cases been 
reversed. He made his way out of the little yard, 
dodging the fluttering banners of servants' clothes, and 
was conscious that his progress was anxiously watched 

49 1 



THE DEBTOR 



by peering eyes at the windows. He reflected that un- 
doubtedly that house would be doubly bolted and barred 
that night, and he would not be surprised if a special 
policeman were summoned, in view of the great probabil- 
ity that he was a gentleman burglar spying out the land 
before he descended upon it in search of the spoons and 
diamonds. Somehow the fancy tickled him to that ex- 
tent that he felt almost as hysterical as a woman. He 
laughed aloud, and two men whom he met just then 
turned round and looked at him suspiciously. 

" Dopey, I guess," one said, audibly, to the other. 

It was now in Carroll's mind to gain the Elevated as 
soon as possible, and hurry down-town to his ferry and 
catch his train. He consulted his watch, and saw that 
he had just about time, if there were no delays. As he 
replaced his watch he remembered that he had, besides 
his railroad book, very little money, only a little silver. 
The helplessness of a cripple came over him. He re- 
called seeing a man who had lost both his legs shuffling 
along on the sidewalk, with the stumps bound with 
leather, carrying a little tray of lead-pencils which no- 
body seemed to buy. He felt like that cripple. A man 
living to-day in the heart of civilization, where money 
is in reality legs and wings and hands, is nothing more 
than a torso without it, he thought. He felt mutilated, 
unspeakably humiliated. It seemed more out of his 
ability to get any honest employment than it had ever 
done before. A number of laborers with their dinner- 
satchels, and their pickaxes over their shoulders, passed 
him. They looked at him, as they passed, with gloomy 
hostility. It was as if they accused him of having some- 
thing which of a right belonged to them. He fell to 
wondering how he would figure in their ranks. He was 
no longer a very young man. However, his muscles 
were still good and supple; it really seemed to him that 
he might dig or pick away at rocks, as he had seen men 

49 2 



THE DEBTOR 

doing in that apparently aimless and hopeless and 
never - ending fashion. He thought in such a case he 
should have to join the union, and he really wondered 
if they would admit him, if he pawned his clothes and 
should buy some poorer ones. He decided, passing him- 
self before himself in mental review, that he might be 
treated by the leaders of a labor union very much as 
he had just been treated by Mr. Baumstein at his area 
door. He also decided that men like those who had just 
met him regard him with even worse suspicion and dis- 
favor. He remembered stories he had read of gentle- 
men, of students, voluntarily joining the ranks of labor 
for the sake of information, but it seemed somehow im- 
possible when it was attempted in earnest. Decidedly, 
his appearance was against him. He had the misfort- 
une to look too much like a man who did not need to 
dig to easily obtain, in labor's parlance, a job to dig. 
Yet, while he thought of it, such was the man's despera- 
tion, his rage against his odds of life, that it seemed to 
him that a purely physical attack on the earth, to which 
he was fastened by some indissoluble laws of nature 
which he could not grasp, would be a welcome relief. 
He felt that with a heavy pick in his hand he could 
strike savagely at the concrete rock, the ribs of the earth, 
and almost enjoy himself. He felt that it would be like 
an attack, although a futile and antlike one, at creation 
itself. All this he thought idly, walking, even hurry- 
ing, along the slippery pavement through the pale, 
sleety mist. He walked as rapidly as he could, some 
of the time slipping, and recovering himself with a long 
slide. He came to a block of new stone houses, divided 
from another by a small space taken up by a little, old- 
fashioned, wooden structure that might have been with 
propriety in Banbridge. He noticed this, and the 
thought came to him that possibly it was the property 
of some ancient and opinionated mortal who was either 

493 



THE DEBTOR 



holding it for higher prices or for the sake of some at- 
tachment or grudge. And just as he reached it he saw 
coming from the opposite direction his old book-keeper, 
William Allbright. Allbright, moving with a due re- 
gard to the dangerous state of the pavement, had still 
an alacrity of movement rather unusual to him. As 
he came nearer it was plain to see that his soberly out- 
lined face, long and clean - shaven, was elated by some- 
thing. He started when he recognized Carroll, and 
stopped. Carroll felt, meeting him, a sensation of self- 
respect like a tonic. Here was at least one man to 
whom he owed nothing, whom he had not injured. He 
held out his hand. 

"How do you do, Mr. Allbright?" he said. 

"Quite well, thank you, Mr. Carroll," replied All- 
bright, then his delight, which makes a child of most 
men, could not be restrained. "I have just secured a 
very good position in a wholesale tea-house — Allen, 
Day & Co.," he said. 

"That is good," said Carroll, echoing the other's en- 
thusiasm. He really felt a leap of joy in his soul be- 
cause of the other's good-fortune. He felt that in some 
way he himself needed to be congratulated for his good- 
fortune, that he had been instrumental in securing it. 
His face lit up. "I am delighted, Mr. Allbright," he 
repeated. 

"Yes, it is a very good thing for me," said Allbright, 
simply. "I was beginning to get a little discouraged. 
.1 had saved a little, but I did not like to spend it all, and 
I have my sister to take care of." 

"I am very glad," Carroll said, still again. 

Allbright then looked at him with a little attention, 
pushing, as it were, his own self, intensified by joy, 
aside. "You are not looking very well, Mr. Carroll," 
he said, deferentially, and yet with a kindly concern. 

"I am very well," said Carroll. Then he pulled out 
494 



THE DEBTOR 



his watch again, and Allbright noticed quickly that it 
was a dollar watch. He remembered his suspicion. 
"I must hurry if I am to get my train," said Carroll. 
"You live here, Mr. Allbright ?" 

"Yes. I have lived here for twenty years." 

"Well, I am very glad to hear of your good-fortune. 
Good-day, Mr. Allbright." 

Carroll had not advanced three paces from Allbright 
before his feet glissaded on the thin glare of the pave- 
ment, he tried to recover himself, and came down heavity, 
striking his head; then he knew no more for some time. 



CHAPTER XXXVII 



Charlotte had expected her father home at a little 
after six o'clock that night. That was the train on 
which he usually arrived lately. She had not the least 
idea what he was doing in the City. She supposed he 
was in the office as he had been hitherto. She never 
inquired. With all the girl's love for her father, she 
had a decided respect. She was old - fashioned in her 
ways of never interfering or even asking for information 
concerning a man's business affairs. 

Charlotte went down to the station to meet her father, 
as she was fond of doing. She had her dinner all ready. 
It was pretty bad, but she was innocently unaware of 
it. In fact, she had much faith in it. She had a soup 
which resembled greatly a flour paste, and that was in 
its covered tureen on the range-shelf, keeping hot and 
growing thicker. She had cooked a cheap cut of beef 
from a recipe in the cook-book, and that was drying up 
by the side of the soup. Poor Charlotte had no pro- 
crastination, but rather the failing of " Haste makes 
waste" of the old proverb. She had her cheap cut of 
beef all cooked at three o'clock in the afternoon, and 
also the potatoes, and the accompanying turnips. Salad 
at that time of the year she could not encompass in any 
form, but she had a singular and shrunken pudding on 
the range-shelf beside the other things. She set the 
coffee-pot well back where it would only boil gently, 
and the table was really beautifully laid. The child's 
cheeks were feverishly flushed with the haste she had 

496 



THE DEBTOR 

made and her pride in her achievements. She had 
swept and dusted a good deal that day, also, and all the 
books and bric-k-brac were in charming arrangement. 
She felt the honest delight of an artist as she looked 
about her house, and she said to herself that she was 
not at all tired. She also said that she was not at all 
hungry, even if she had only eaten a cracker for lunch- 
eon and little besides for breakfast. She realized a 
faintness at her stomach, and told herself that she must 
be getting indigestion. Her little stock of money was 
very nearly gone. She had even begun to have a very 
few things charged again at Anderson's. Sometimes her 
father brought home a little money, but she understood 
well enough that their financial circumstances were 
wellnigh desperate. However, she had an enormous 
faith in her father that went far to buoy her up. While 
she felt the most intense compassion for him that he 
should be so hard pressed, it never occurred to her that 
it could be due to any fault or lack of ability in him, and 
she had, in reality, no doubt whatever of his final re- 
covery of their sinking fortunes. She wrote her mother 
that papa was going to the City every day, that they 
were getting on very well, and while they had not yet 
a maid, she thought it better to wait until they were 
perfectly satisfied before engaging one. The letters she 
had received at first from Mrs. Carroll had been child- 
ishly amazed and reproachful, although acquiescent. 
Her aunt had written her more seriously and with great 
affection. She told her to send for her at once if she 
needed her, and she would come. 

Charlotte, going down the street towards the station 
that night, expected a letter by the five-o'clock train. 
She reached the post-office, which was near the station, 
at a quarter before six, and she found, as she antici- 
pated, letters. There were several for her father, 
which she thought, accusingly towards the writers, were 

497 



THE DEBTOR 



bills. It was odd that Charlotte, while not really 
morally perverted, and while she admitted the right of 
people to be paid, did not admit the right of any one to 
annoy her father by presenting his bill. She looked at 
the letters, and, remembering the wretched expression 
on her father's face on receiving some the night before, 
it actually entered into her mind to tear these letters up 
and never let him see them at all. But she put them 
in her little bag, and opened her own letters and stood 
in the office to read them. The train was not due for 
fifteen minutes yet, and was very likely to be late. 
She had letters from her mother, Ina, and aunt. They 
all told of the life they were leading there, and expressed 
hope that she and her father were well, and there was 
a great deal of love. It was all the usual thing, for they 
wrote every day. There were also letters from them 
all for Carroll. The Carroll family, when absent from 
one another, were all good correspondents, with the ex- 
ception of Carroll. There was even a little letter from 
Eddy, which had been missent, because he had spelled 
Banbridge like two words — Ban Bridge. 

Charlotte read her letters, smiling over them, stand- 
ing aloof by the window. The post - office was fast 
thinning out. There had been the customary crowd 
there at the arrival of the mail — the pushing and shriek- 
ing children and the heavily shuffling loungers — all peo- 
ple who never by any possibility got any letters, but 
who found a certain excitement in frequenting the 
office at such times. Just as Charlotte finished her last 
letter and replaced it in the envelope, Anderson came 
in for his mail. He did not notice her, but went directly 
to his box, which had a lock, opened it, and took out a 
pile of letters. Charlotte stood looking at him. He 
looked very good and very handsome to her. She 
thought to herself how very much better-looking he was 
than Ina's husband. There was something about the 

498 



THE DEBTOR 



manly squareness of his shoulders, as he stood with his 
back towards her, examining his letters, which made 
her tremble a little, she could not have told why. Sud- 
denly he looked up and saw her, and she felt that the 
color flashed over her face, and was ashamed and angry. 
"Why should I do so?" she asked herself. She made 
a curt, stiff little bow in response to Anderson's greeting, 
and he passed her going out of the office with his letters. 
Then she felt distressed. 

"I need not have been rude because I was such a 
little idiot as to blush when a man looked at me," she 
told herself. " It was not his fault. He has always been 
lovely to us." She reviewed in her mind just her ap- 
pearance when she had given him that stiff little bow, 
and she felt almost like crying with vexation. "Of 
course he does not care how I bow to him," she thought, 
and somehow that thought seemed to give her additional 
distress, "but, all the same, I should have been at least 
polite, for he is very much a gentleman. I think he is 
much better bred, and he certainly knows much more 
than Ina's husband, even if he does only keep a grocery 
store; but then army officers are not supposed to know 
much except how to fight." 

The heavy jar of a passing freight train made her 
look at the post-office clock, and with her usual prompt- 
ness, although it was fully seven minutes before the 
train was due, even if it were on time, and she was only 
about one minute's walk from the station, she reflected 
that she must start at once if she were to meet her 
father. So she stowed away her letters in her little bag, 
and fairly ran across the icy slope between the office 
and the station. She saw, as she hurried along, a child 
tumble down, and watched him jump up and run off 
to make sure he was not hurt. When she reached the 
station she did not go in the waiting-room, which seemed 
close and stuffy, but remained out on the platform. 

499 



THE DEBTOR 



The sun had set, but the western sky, which was visible 
from that point, was a clear expanse of rose and violet. 
Charlotte stood looking at it, and for a minute she was 
able to find that standing-point outside her own little 
life and affairs which exists for the soul. She did not 
think any more of the money troubles, of her bowing 
so stiffly to Mr. Anderson. She forgot not only her 
petty worries, but her petty triumphs and pleasures. 
She forgot even the exceeding becomingness of a new 
way in which she had dressed her hair. She forgot her 
coat, which she had herself trimmed with fur taken 
from an old one of her mother's, and in which her heart 
delighted. She forgot her supreme dinner warming on 
the range-shelf at home. She forgot the joy she would 
soon have in seeing her father alight from the train. 
The little, young, untrained creature saw and knew 
for the moment only the eternal that which was 
and is and shall be, and which the sunset symbol- 
ized. Her young face had a rapt expression looking 
at it. 

" Dandy sunset, ain't it?" said a voice at her ear. 
She looked and saw Bessy Van Dorn, her large, bloom- 
ing face, rosy with the cold, smiling at her from under 
a mass of tossing black plumes on a picture-hat. The 
girl was really superb in a long, fur-lined coat. She had 
driven in a sleigh to the station, and she expected Frank 
Eastman on the train, and was, with the most innocent 
and ignorant boldness in the world, planning to drive 
him home, although she was not engaged to him and 
he was not expecting her. Her face, turning from the 
wonderful after-glow of the sunset to Charlotte's, had 
also something of the same rapt expression in spite of 
her words. 

"Yes, it is beautiful," replied Charlotte, but rather 
coldly. She was a friendly little soul, but she did not 
naturally care for girls of Bessy Van Dorn's particular 

500 



THE DEBTOR 



type. She was herself too fine and small before such a 
mass of inflorescence. 

"It's cold," said Bessy Van Dorn, further, "but, 
land, I like it! Have you been sleigh-riding?" 

"No, I haven't," replied Charlotte. 

"Oh, I forgot," said Bessy. 

Charlotte knew what she had forgot — that the horses 
had gone for debt — and she reddened, but the other 
girl's voice was honest. 

"I'd like to take you sometime," said Bessy. 

"Thank you," said Charlotte. 

"I'd offer to take you home to-night," said Bessy, 
"but I've arranged to take somebody else." 

"Thank you. I could not go, anyway," said Char- 
lotte. "I am down to meet my father." 

"Oh!" said Bessy. "Well, then you couldn't. A 
sleigh ain't quite wide enough for three, unless one of 
'em is your best young man," she giggled. Charlotte 
felt ashamed. 

"My father is," she said, sternly. She fairly turned 
her back on Bessy Van Dorn, but she did not notice 
it, for the train was audible in the distance, and Bessy 
began calculating her distance from the car in which 
Frank Eastman usually rode, that she might be sure 
not to miss him. 

Charlotte stood on the platform, and also ran along by 
the side of the train scanning anxiously the men who 
alighted. To her great astonishment, her father was 
not among them. She could scarcely believe it when 
the train went slowly past the station and her father 
had not got off. 

Bessy Van Dorn, driving Frank Eastman in her sleigh, 
with the fringe of fur tails dangling over the back, looked 
around at Charlotte slowly retreating from the station. 
"Why, her father didn't come!" said she. 

"Whose father?" asked young Eastman. He looked 



THE DEBTOR 



admiringly and even lovingly at the girl, and yet in a 
slightly scornful and shamed fashion. He hated to think 
of what some of the men he knew would say about her 
meeting him at the station. 

" Why, that poor little Charlotte Carroll's!" said Bessy. 
"Say/' she added, after a second's hesitation. 

"What?" asked young Eastman. 

"I've a good mind to ask her to ride. We're goin' 
her way. You don't mind?" 

"Not a bit," said young Eastman, but he did think 
uncomfortably of Ina's sister seeing him with Bessy 
Van Dorn. 

Bessie promptly stopped. They had not yet made 
the turn from the station to the main road, and Char- 
lotte was just behind them. 

"Say," she called out, "get in here. I'll take you 
home — just as soon as not." 

"Thank you," replied Charlotte. "I have an errand. 
I am not going home just yet." 

"All right," replied Bessy, touching her horse. "I'd 
just as soon have taken you as not, if you'd been going 
home." 

"Thank you," Charlotte said, again. 

" I declare, she looked as if sne was just ready to cry," 
said Bessy to Eastman, as they drove up the street. 

She was quite right. Charlotte was horribly fright- 
ened by her father's non-arrival on the train. He had 
never come on a later train than that since the others 
had gone. The thought of returning alone to her 
solitary home was more than she could bear. She re- 
membered that there was another train a half-hour 
later, and she resolved to remain down for that. She 
thought that she would go to Mr. Anderson's store and 
purchase some cereal for breakfast, that she might have 
that charged. She was conscious, but she tried to stifle 
the consciousness, of a hope that Mr. Anderson would be 

502 




SHE STOOD STARING DOWN THE TRACK AT THE UNSWERVING 
SIGNAL-LIGHTS " 



THE DEBTOR 

there, and she might tell him that her father had not ar- 
rived on that train, and he would reassure her. But Mr. 
Anderson had naturally gone straight home from the post- 
office to supper. Charlotte ordered her cereal, and also a 
few eggs. Then she went back to the station. It was 
nearly twenty minutes before the train was due. She 
walked up and down the platform, which extended east 
and west. The new moon was just rising, a slender 
crescent of light, and off one upper horn burned a great 
star. It was a wonderful night, cold, with a calmness 
and hush of all the winds of heaven which was like the 
hush of peace itself. Charlotte noticed everything, the 
calm night and the crescent moon, but she came be- 
tween herself and her own knowledge of it. Her mind 
was fixed upon the train and the terrible possibility 
that her father might not arrive on that. It seemed to 
her that if he did not arrive on that it was simply be- 
yond bearing. The possibility was too terrible to be 
contemplated with reason, and yet she could not have 
told just why she was in such a panic of fear. A thou- 
sand things might happen to keep any business-man in 
the City later than he had expected. He had often been 
so kept while the others were home; but now she was 
alone, and she felt that he would certainly come unless 
something most serious had detained him. Charlotte 
had naturally a somewhat pessimistic turn of mind, and 
her imagination was active. She imagined many things ; 
she even imagined the actual cause of Carroll's deten- 
tion, among others, that he had slipped on the ice and 
injured himself. The falling of the boy on her way to 
the six -o'clock train had directly swerved her fancy in 
that direction. But she imagined everything. That 
was only one of many casualties. The train was a lit- 
tle late. She stood staring down the track at the un- 
swerving signal -lights, watching for the head -light of the 
locomotive, and it seemed to her quite certain that there 
33 So3 



THE DEBTOR 



had been an accident on that train. A thought struck 
her, and she went into the waiting-room and asked the 
ticket-agent if the train was very late. The agent was 
quite a young man, and he looked at her with a covert 
masculine coquettishness as he replied, but she was 
oblivious of that. All she thought of was that, if there 
had been an accident on the line and the train was late 
on that account, he would surely be apt to know. Her 
heart was beating so fast that she trembled ; but he said 
ten minutes, and said nothing about an accident, and 
she was reassured. She turned to go, after thanking 
him, and he volunteered further information. 

"There is a freight ahead delaying the train," he 
said. 

"Oh, thank you," replied Charlotte. Then she went 
out on the platform again and watched for the head- 
light of the locomotive, staring down the track past 
the twinkle of the signal-lights. Suddenly it flashed 
into sight far off, but she saw it. She waited. Soon 
she heard the train. A gateman crossed the tracks 
from the in-station, padlocking the gates carefully after 
him. A baggage-master drew a trunk to the edge of 
the platform. A few passengers came out of the wait- 
ing-room. 

Charlotte waited, and the train came majestically 
around the curve below the station. She moved along 
as it came up, keeping her eyes on the cars. She seemed 
to have eyes with facets like a cut diamond. It was 
really as if she saw all the car doors at once. But she 
moved with a strange stiffness, and could not feel her 
hands nor feet ; her heart beat so fast and thick that it 
shook her like the pulse of an engine. She moved along, 
and she saw every passenger who alighted. Then the 
train steamed out of the station with slowly gathering 
speed, and her father had not come on it. 

Charlotte, when she actually realized the fact, the 
504 



THE DEBTOR 



possibility of which had seemed incredible, gained a 
little strength. It was like the endurance of disaster 
which is sometimes more feasible than the contempla- 
tion of it. She thought at once what to do. In the 
event of her father having been delayed by some un- 
foreseen business he would surely telegraph. She at 
once crossed the slope from the station and went to 
Andrew Drake's drug-store, where the telegraph-office 
was. She asked if a telegram had come for her, if one 
had been sent to the house. When the boy in charge 
answered no, she felt as if she had received a stunning 
blow. She had then no doubt whatever that some- 
thing had happened to her father, some accident. The 
boy, who was young and pleasant-faced, watched her 
with a vague sympathy. In a moment she recovered 
herself. He might have sent a telegram which had not 
arrived. It might come any moment. The boy direct- 
ly had the same thought. ''The minute the telegram 
comes I'll get it up to you," he said, earnestly. "I ex- 
pect Mr. Drake back every minute, and I can leave. " 
"Thank you/' said Charlotte. 

It was an hour and a half before the next train. She 
went out of the store and walked miserably along the 
street to her deserted home. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 



There is, to a human being of Charlotte Carroll's 
type, something unutterably terrifying about entering, 
especially at nightfall, an entirely empty house. The 
worst of it is it does not seem to be empty. In reality, 
the emptiness of it is the last thing which is compre- 
hended. It is full to overflowing with terrors, with 
spiritual entities which are much more palpable, when 
one is in a certain mood, than actual physical presences. 
Charlotte approaching the house, saw, first, glimmers of 
light on the windows, which were merely reflections 
ostensibly from the electric light in the street, not so 
ostensibly from other lights. 

"Oh, there is some one in there/' Charlotte thought 
to herself, and again that horrible, pulsing, vibrating 
motion of her heart overcame her. "Who is there?" 
she asked herself. She remembered that terrible tramp 
whom vshe had seen asleep in the woods that day. He 
might have been riding on some freight-train which had 
stopped at Banbridge, and stolen across and entered 
the vacant house. She stood still, staring at the cold 
glimmers on the windows. Then gradually she became 
convinced that they were merely reflections which she 
saw. Aside from her imagination, Charlotte was not 
entirely devoid of a certain bravery, or, rather, of a cer- 
tain reason which came to her rescue. "What a little 
goose I am!" she told herself. "Those are only re- 
flections. They are the reflections of the light in the 
street." As she studied it more closely she saw that 

506 



THE DEBTOR 

the light, being intercepted by the branches of the trees 
on the lawn, swaying in a light wind, produced some 
of the strange effects at the windows which had seemed 
like people moving back and forth in the rooms. Then 
all at once she saw another glimmer of light on the front 
window of her fathers room which she could not ac- 
count for at all. She moved in front of a long, fan- 
shaped ray cast by the electric light in the street, and, 
looking at the window, the reflection was still there. 
She could not account for that at all, unless it was pro- 
duced by a light from a house window — which was 
probably , the case. At all events, it disquieted her. 
Still, she overcame her disinclination to enter the house 
because of that. She reasoned from analogy. "All 
the other lights are reflections/' she told herself, "and 
of course that must be." However, the main cause of 
her terror remained: the unfounded, world-old con- 
viction of presences behind closed doors, the almost 
impossibility for a very imaginative person to conceive 
of an entirely empty room or house — that is, empty of 
sentient life. She had hidden the front-door key under 
the mat before the front door ; she had lived long enough 
in the country to acquire that absurdly innocent habit. 
She groped for it, thought for a second, with a gasp of 
horror, that it was not there. Then she felt it with her 
gloved hand, fitted it in the lock, opened the door, and 
went in, and the inner darkness smote her like a hostile 
crowd. 

It was actually to the child as if she were passing 
through a thick group of mysterious, inimical things 
concealed by the darkness. It was as if she heard 
whispers of conspiracy; it was even as if she smelled 
odors of strange garments and bodies. Every sense in 
her was on the alert. She even tasted something bitter 
in her mouth. It was all absurd. She reiterated in 
her ears that it was all absurd, but she had now passed 

5o7 



THE DEBTOR 

the point wherein reason can support. She had come 
through an unusually active imagination into the un- 
known quantities and sequences of life. She put out 
her hands and groped her way through the darkness of 
the hall, and the fear lest she should touch some one, 
some terrible thing, was as bad as the reality could have 
been. She knew T best where to find matches in the 
dining-room, so she went through the hall, with a sort 
of mad rush in spite of her blindness, and she gained 
the dining-room and felt along the shelf for a little 
hammered-brass bowl where matches were usually kept. 
In it she felt only two. The mantel-shelf was the old- 
fashioned marble monstrosity, the perpetuation of a 
false taste in domestic architecture, but it was excellent 
as to its facilities for scratching matches. She rubbed 
one of the two matches under the shelf on the rough 
surface, but it did not ignite. It evidently was a half- 
burned match. She took the other. It seemed to her 
that if that failed her, if she had to grope about the 
kitchen for more in this thick blackness — for even the 
street -light did not reach this room — she should die. 
She rubbed the last match against the marble, and it 
blazed directly. She shielded it carefully with her hand 
from the door draught, and succeeded in lighting . a 
candle in one of a pair of brass candlesticks which stood 
on the shelf. She then held the flaring light aloft and 
looked fearfully around the room. Everything was as 
usual, but, strangely enough, it did not reassure her. 
The solitariness continued to hold terrible possibilities 
for her as well as the darkness, and with the light also 
returned what had been for a few minutes in abeyance 
before her purely selfish fear, the anxiety over her father. 
She moved about the house with the candle, going from 
room to room. It seemed to her that she could not 
remain one minute if she did not do so. Every time 
before entering a room she felt sure that it was occupied. 

508 



THE DEBTOR 



Every time after leaving it she felt sure that something 
unknown was left there. She went into the kitchen, 
and saw her miserable little dinner drying up in the 
shelf of the range, and then for the first time self-pity 
asserted itself. She sat down and sobbed and sobbed. 

" There, I got that nice dinner, that beautiful dinner," 
she said to herself, quite aloud in a pitiful wail like a 
baby's, "and perhaps poor papa will never even taste 
it. Oh dear! Oh dear!" 

She rocked herself back and forth in the kitchen-chair, 
weeping. She had set the candle on the table, and a 
draught of wind from some unknown quarter struck it 
and the strangest lights and shadows flared and flickered 
over the room and ceiling. Presently, Charlotte, look- 
ing at them, became diverted again from her grief. She 
looked about fearfully. Then she made a tremendous 
effort, rose, and lighted a lamp. With that the room 
was not so frightful, yet it was still not normal. The 
familiar homely articles of furniture assumed strange 
appearances. She saw something on the range, a little 
object which filled her with such unreasoning horror 
that it was almost sheer insanity. It was simply be- 
cause she could not for the moment imagine what the 
little object, which had nothing in the least frightful 
about it, could be. Finally she rose and looked, and 
it was only a little iron spoon which she must have 
dropped there. She removed it, but still the horror was 
over her. She lifted the cover from the dish of meat, 
and again the tears came. 

"Poor papa! poor papa!" she said. 

Then she carried the lamp into the dining-room, and 
went into the parlor. She had made herself quite satis- 
fied that there was in reality nothing menacing in the 
house except her own fears. She would sit beside one 
of the front windows in the parlor, in the dark, in order 
that she might not be seen, and she would watch for 

S09 



THE DEBTOR 



her father, and she would also watch for any one who 
might approach the house with any harmful intent. 

Charlotte curled herself up in a large chair beside the 
window which commanded the best view of the grounds 
and the drive. With the light of the young moon there 
was really no possibility that anything could approach 
unseen by her, unless by way of the fields from the back. 
But that she did not think of. Her mind became again 
concentrated upon her father and the possibility of 
either his return on the next train or a telegram ex- 
plaining his absence. She knew that the next train 
from New York was due in Banbridge at a few minutes 
after eight. She had no time-table, but she remembered 
Major Arms arriving once, and she was quite certain 
that the train was due at eight-seventeen. It might, of 
course, be late. She reflected, with a sense of solid com- 
fort, that the trains were rather more apt to be late 
than not. She need not give up hope of her father's 
arriving on this train until even nine o'clock, for be- 
sides the possibility of the lateness there was also that 
of his walking rather than taking a carriage from the 
station. In fact, he would probably walk, since he 
was still in Samson Rawdy's debt. She might allow at 
least twenty minutes for the walk from the station. She 
might allow more even than that. She sat at the win- 
dow, and waited, peering out. There was a singular 
half -dusk rather than half-light from the new moon. 
The moon itself was not visible from where she sat, for 
the window faced north, but she could see over every- 
thing the sweet influence of it. There was no snow on 
the lawn, which was a dry crisp of frost-killed grass, as 
flat as if swept by a broom, and here and there were the 
faintest patches and mottles of silver from this moon, 
aside from a broad gleam of the garish light from the 
street-lamp. The bushes and trees showed lines of 
silver. The moon was so young that the stars were 

5 T ° 



THE DEBTOR 

quite brilliant. Taking all the lights together — the 
electric light in the street, the new moon, and the stars — 
the lawn was quite visible, and even, because the leaves 
were now all gone from the trees, the road for quite a 
distance beyond. Charlotte had a considerable vista in 
which to watch for her father. The time passed in- 
credibly in this watching. She had upon her such a 
fear and even premonition that he might not come, that 
the minutes passed with the horrible swiftness that they 
pass for a criminal awaiting execution. The first time 
she slipped out in the dining-room — with a last look at 
the lawn and road, to be sure that he would not be there 
in the mean time — to see what time it was by the clock 
on the shelf, she was amazed. It was already eight 
o'clock. She had not dreamed it was more than half- 
past seven. She crept back to her place by the parlor 
window, with the feeling that much of her time of re- 
prieve had passed, and that she was so much the nearer 
the certainty of tribulation. Instead of impatience she 
had rather the desire to defer approaching disaster. 
While she watched, she had less and less hope that her 
father would come on that train, and yet she kept her 
heart alive by picturing her rapture when she should see 
his tall, dark figure enter the lawn path, when she should 
run and unlock and unbar the door and throw her arms 
around his neck. She made up her mind that she 
should not confess to him what a panic she had been in 
because of his non-arrival. She planned how she would 
run and set the dinner, in which she still believed, on 
the table, and how hungry he would be for it. She was 
quite sure that her poor father did not in these days 
provide himself with sumptuous lunches in the city. 
But all the time she reared these air-castles, she saw for 
a certainty the dark sky of her trouble through them. 
For some premonition, or a much modified form of 
prophecy, the rudimentary expression of a divine sense 

5" 



THE DEBTOR 

in reality exists. It existed in Charlotte watching for 
her father at the window, and yet so bound up was she 
in the probabilities and present sequences of things 
that she still watched. Now and then she made sure 
that she saw her father turn from the road into the 
lawn, but the figure, to her horror, would remain stand- 
ing still in one place. It was simply a slender spruce 
which had seemed to start out of a corner of the night 
with a semblance of life. Now and then she actually 
did see a figure coming up the road, approaching the 
entrance to the lawn, and her heart leaped up with 
joy. She watched for it to enter, but that was the 
end. Whoever it was, it had passed the house and 
gone farther up the road. Those were the cruellest 
moments of any — the momentary revival of hope and 
then the dashing it to the ground. By-and-by her eyes, 
strained with such watching, began to actually deceive 
her. She saw, as she thought, shadows, approach and 
enter the house. Several times she ran to the door 
and opened it, and no one was there. 

After she had gone out in the dining-room and seen 
that it was eight-seventeen, the time when the train was 
due in Banbridge, she watched for the train. She knew 
that she could hear the rush of the train after it left 
the station ; she could even catch a glimpse of the rosy 
fire of the locomotive through the trees, since the 
track was elevated. She therefore watched for that, 
but it was very late. That was unmistakably a great 
solace for her. She actually had a prayerful mood of 
thankfulness for the lateness of the train. It was that 
much longer that she need not give up hope. There was 
a few minutes that she felt quite easy. Suddenly she 
remembered how foolish she had been to watch for her 
father, anyway, before she heard the arrival of the 
train. She realized that her head was overstrained, 
her reason failing her. "How could papa come before 

512 



THE DEBTOR 

the train ?" she asked herself. But after a few min- 
utes her fears reasserted themselves. She watched for 
something inimical to appear crossing the lawn instead 
of her father. And then she heard a train, and she felt 
faint, but in a second she became aware that it was a 
long freight. No passenger - train ever moved thus 
with the veritable chu-chu of the children, the heavy 
panting of two engines. Then after that she started 
again, for she heard a train, but it was as if she had 
been let fall by some wanton hand from a cruel height, 
for that train was clearly a fast express which did not 
stop at Banbridge. Then she heard a faint rumble of 
another freight on the Lehigh Valley road. Then at 
last came the train for which she had been looking, the 
train on which her father might come, the train on which 
he surely would come unless some terrible thing had 
happened. She heard distinctly, with her sharpened 
ears, the stop of the train at the station, the letting off 
of steam. She heard the engine-bell. She heard it re- 
sume its advance with slowly gathering motion. She 
saw a rosy flash of fire in the distance from the engine. 
Then she waited for carriage-wheels, or for the sight of 
her father coming up the road. It was quite soon that 
she heard carriage-wheels on the frozen ground, and she 
ran to the door and opened it, but the carriage passed. 
Samson Rawdy was taking home the next neighbor. 
" It will take papa considerably longer if he walks, " she 
told herself, and she locked the door and returned to 
her station at the window. She saw again a dark 
figure approaching on the road outside, and she thought 
with a great throb of joy that he had surely come, but 
the figure did not enter the grounds. She allowed 
twenty-five minutes for him to walk from the station. 
She said to herself if, when twenty-five minutes had 
elapsed, he had not come, she should certainly know 
that he had not come on that train. She did not dare 

5i3 



THE DEBTOR 

look at the clock, but after a while, when she did so, she 
found it was twenty-seven minutes after eight. Still 
that clock often gained. She ran out in the kitchen 
and looked at the clock there, but that had stopped at 
half-past seven. It was very seldom that anybody 
remembered to wind up the kitchen-clock since Marie 
went. Her own little watch was at the jeweller's in New 
Sanderson for repairs. She had nothing to depend on 
except the dining-room clock, which, to her great com- 
fort, so often gained. She decided that she might wait 
until ten minutes of nine by that clock before she gave 
up hope, but the next time she went trembling out to 
look at it it was only three minutes before nine. Then 
it occurred to her that her father might easily have 
had an errand at one of the stores before coming home. 
The post-office would be closed; she had no hope for 
that, but he might have had some business. She 
thought that she might allow until half-past nine be- 
fore she entirely gave up her father having come on 
the eight-seventeen train. It was then that she began 
running out on the lawn to the entrance of the drive 
to watch for him. She put a Roman blanket, which 
was kept on the divan in the den, over her head, and she 
continually ran out across the lawn, and stood close to 
a tree, staring down the road for some sign of her father. 
Curiously enough, she was not nearly so terrified out- 
of-doors as in the house. The strain of returning to 
that vacant house was much worse for her than going 
across the lawn in the lonely night. She watched and 
watched, and at last when she returned to the house 
and looked at the dining-room clock, it was half-past 
nine, and she completely gave up all hope of her father 
having come on that train. 

A species of stupor, of terror and anxiety, seemed to 
overcome her. She sat by the parlor window, still 
staring out from mere force of habit. She knew that 

5M 



THE DEBTOR 



the next and last train that night was not due until 
one-thirty, presumably nearly two o'clock. She knew 
that there was not the slightest chance of her father's 
coming until then, but her mind now centred on the 
telegram. It did seem as if there must be a telegram, 
at least. All at once a figure appeared in the road and 
swiftly turned into the drive. She thought at once that 
the boy in the drug-store was bringing the telegram; still, 
she resolved not to open the door until she was sure who 
it was. She peered closely from the window, and it was 
unmistakably the drug-store boy who emerged from the 
tree shadows and came up on the stoop. She ran to the 
door and unfastened it, not waiting for him to ring. She 
held out her trembling little hand for the telegram, but 
he kept his at his side. He looked at her, grinning half- 
sympathetically, half -sheepishly. He was an overgrown 
boy, perhaps three years younger than she, whom a pretty 
girl overwhelmed with an enormous self-consciousness 
and admiration. 

"Where is it?' asked Charlotte, impatiently. 

"I 'ain't got nothin'," said the boy. 

"Then why—" 

"I was going home from the store, and I thought I'd 
jest stop an' let you know there wa'n't no telegrams yet. 
It wa'n't much out of my way." 

Charlotte gasped. 

"I thought it might be a relief to your mind to 
know," said the boy. " I thought you might be 
watchin'. I saw your father didn't come on that 
other train. I was up at the station on an er- 
rand." 

"Thank you," sad Charlotte, feebly. 

The boy lingered a second with bashful eyes on her 
face, then he said again that he thought he would just 
stop in and let her know. He was going down the 
path, and she was just closing the door, when he called 

515 



THE DEBTOR 



back that she might have a telegram if her father sent 
it by the postal-telegraph system. 

"You won't get none from our place after now," he 
said, "for Mr. Drake won't bring up none so late; but 
if your father sends that way, you could get one, mebbe." 

"Thank you," replied Charlotte, and the boy went 
away. 

When Charlotte re-entered the house and locked the 
door, a loneliness which was like a positive chill struck 
over her. It was much worse now since she had been 
in communication with another human being. 

"If he had only been a girl I would have gone down 
on my knees to him to stay all night with me," she 
thought. 

She tried to think if there was anybody in Banbridge 
whom she could ask to stay with her, but she could 
think of none. She thought of Marie, but she did not 
even know where she was. There was no woman whom 
she could call upon. She resumed her seat beside the 
window. She did not dream of going to bed. She had 
now to watch for the possible postal telegram; it would 
not be time for the last train for hours yet. She had the 
telegraph - messenger and some possible marauder to 
watch for. She kept her eyes glued to the expanse of 
the lawn and small stretch of road visible between the 
leafless trees. Now and then a carriage passed; very 
seldom a walking shadow. She always started at the 
sight of these, thinking the telegram might be about to 
arrive. If the telegram should arrive she expected fully 
that it would be of some terrible import. A thought 
struck her, something that she might do. If her father 
was injured, if she were to be sent for from the City, 
she resolved that she would have everything in readi- 
ness for instant departure. There was a train which 
Banbridge flagged after the arrival of the last train from 
New York. She lit a lamp, went up-stairs, and packed 

5*6 



THE DEBTOR 

a little travelling-bag with necessaries, and made some 
changes in her dress, and felt a certain relief in so doing. 
She had very little money, and a book with two or three 
railroad tickets. She felt that she could start at a 
moment's notice should the telegram arrive. All the 
time she was packing she was listening for the door-bell. 
It became quite firmly fixed in her mind what the tele- 
gram would be: that her father was terribly injured 
and had been carried to a hospital, that she should at 
once go to the hospital. It sometimes occurred to her 
that he might be even dead, but that idea did not so 
take hold on her fancy as the other. 

She left the lamp burning up-stairs, thinking sud- 
denly that it would be well to have the house present 
the appearance of being well inhabited. She took her 
hat and coat and her little travelling-bag, and she went 
back to the place by the parlor window and stared out 
at the lawn again. It was growing very late. Soon 
it would be time for her to watch for the last train. It 
really seemed to the girl an incredible supposition of 
disaster that that train could pass by and her father 
not appear, and that in the face of her morbid and 
pessimistic conclusions. She was a mass of inconsist- 
encies, of incoherencies. She at once despaired and 
hoped with a hope that was conviction. At last, when 
she saw by the clock that it only wanted a few minutes 
before the time when the last train was due, her spirits 
arose as if winged. She even went out in the kitchen 
and examined the wretched dinner to make sure it was 
still hot. She put more coal on the range. The house 
was growing very cold, and she knew that the furnace 
fire needed attention, but she absolutely dared not go 
down cellar alone at that time. They had very little 
coal, also, and had been in the habit of letting the 
furnace fire die down at night. She put on her coat 
when she returned from the kitchen, and sat again by 

5i7 



THE DEBTOR 



the window. She felt now an absolute certainty that 
her father would arrive on this train. She felt that it 
was monstrous to assume that her father would not 
come home all night and leave her alone with no mes- 
sage. She felt even quite radiantly happy sitting there. 
She said to herself w T hat a little goose she had been. 
Even a noise made by some coal falling in the kitchen- 
range failed to startle her. She now hoped that the 
train would not be late, and it was, in fact, very nearly 
on time. Then she watched for her father with not 
the slightest doubt that he would come. It had come 
to that pass that her credulity as to disaster had failed 
her. It was simply out of her power to credit the pos- 
sibility of his not coming on this train when he had 
sent no telegram. She knew that there would be no 
carriage at the station at that hour, unless he had 
telegraphed for one from Xew York, and she questioned, 
in the state of their finances, if he would do that. She 
was therefore sure of seeing his figure appear, coming, 
with the stately stride which she knew so well, into view 
on the road below the lawn. 

She allowed twenty-five minutes for his appearance 
after she had seen the train pass. She knew T nothing 
could detain him in the village at that time of night, 
and she w 7 as sure he would come within that time. She 
looked at the dining - room clock and found that she 
had, if she allowed that twenty-five minutes, just fifteen 
minutes to wait. She sat shrugged up in her little fur- 
trimmed coat, for the house was growing very cold, and 
stared intently at the pale glimmer of the road. After 
the twenty-five minutes had passed, she went out in 
the dining-room and looked at the clock. The time was 
more than passed ; there was no doubt. Her father had 
not come. The panic seized her. 

She was now dashed from the heights of hope, and 
the shock was double. She realized that her father had 

5*8 



THE DEBTOR 



not come, would not come that night; that she would 
probably have no telegram. She realized that she was 
all alone in the house. Now again unreasoning fear 
as well as the anxiety for her father seized her. Again 
the conviction of the awful population of the empty 
rooms was upon her. She sat down again by the win- 
dow, and she tried to make her reasoning powers re- 
assert themselves. 

"If anything comes this way, I shall see it in time, 
and I can run out the back door and across to the 
neighbors," she told herself. "If anything comes in the 
back way, I shall hear and have time to run out the 
front door; and I know there is nothing in the house." 
But she could not reassure herself, since what terrified 
her, and even temporarily unbalanced her, was fear 
itself. 

Fear multiplied, growing upon itself, spreading out 
new tentacles with every throb of her imagination, filling 
the whole house. All her life she had thought what a 
frightful thing it would be if ever she were left alone by 
herself in a house, all night; and now worse than that 
had come to pass, for she was not alone; the house was 
peopled by fear and the creatures of fear. She heard 
noises constantly that she could not account for, and 
she also saw things which she could not account for. 
Again the small and trivial, acutely stinging horror of 
some ordinary object in a new and awful guise possessed 
her. She was almost paralyzed at the sudden glimpse 
of something on the divan across the room. It was a 
long time before she could possibly totter to investigate, 
and ascertain it was one of her own gloves. But it did 
not strike her as at all funny. There was still some- 
thing frightful to her about the glove. She went back 
to the window, and soon she distinctly heard a noise 
up-stairs, and then a shadow crossed the ceiling. A 
new horror seized her — a horror of herself. She felt 

34 519 



THE DEBTOR 

that in another moment she might herself become a 
very part and substance of the fear that was oppress- 
ing her. She had an imagination of jumping up, of 
running about and screaming, of breaking something. 
Then with that clutch at life and reason which is life 
itself, which all dying and despairing things have at the 
last, she thought again that there must be somebody, 
somebody in the whole place to whom she could turn, 
somebody who would help her, who would pity her. 
She had heretofore only thought of the possibility of 
somebody who would come and stay with her; it now 
occurred to her that she herself might be the one to go, 
and that she might escape from this house of fear. It 
was suddenly to her as to a prisoner w T ho realizes that 
all the time his prison doors have been unbarred. 

' 'What am I staying here for in this awful house by 
myself?" she suddenly thought. When that idea came 
to her, the idea of escape, the action of her mind became 
involuntary. There was only one to whom she could 
run for aid. She remembered so vividly that the 
experience seemed to repeat itself, her terror of the 
tramp in the woods, and how she had seen Anderson. 
She sprang up. It became sure to her that she must 
get away from that house, that she must not remain. 
The imaginative girl, whom anxiety and want of food 
had weakened, as well as fear, was fairly at the point 
of madness, or that hysteria which is the border-land 
of it. She distinctly heard herself laugh as she ran 
out of the room and out of the house. Her head 
was bare, but she did not think of that. She had 
on her coat which she had worn because of the coldness 
of the house. She fled across the lawn to the street. 
Once on the road, she was saner, she felt only the nat- 
ural impulse of flight of any hunted thing. She fled 
down the road past the quiet village houses, in which 
the people slept in their beds. The electric lights were 

520 



THE DEBTOR 



out, the moon was low. It was quite dark. Nobody 
except herself was abroad in the night. A great pity 
for herself, a pity that she might have felt for a little 
lonely child out by herself at night, when everybody 
else was safe in their homes, came over her. She sobbed 
as she ran; she even sobbed quite loudly. She did not 
feel so afraid, as wild for somebody to take her in and 
comfort her. She ran down the main street and turned 
up the one on which the Andersons lived. When she 
reached the house it was quite dark, except for a very 
faint glimmer in one of the upper front rooms. It 
was from the little night-lamp which Mrs. Anderson 
always kept burning. The sight of that light seemed 
to give Charlotte strength to get up the steps. She 
had run so weakly that all the way she had a thought 
of the terraces of steps leading to the Anderson house, 
if she could climb them. She went up the steps, and 
then she pressed hard the electric button on the door; 
she also raised the superfluous old brass knocker which 
Mrs. Anderson cherished because it was a relic from her 
husband's time; then she clanged that. Then she sank 
down on the step in front of the door. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 



Almost at once a light flashed from an upper window 
in response to Charlotte's knock and ring. Anderson 
himself had been in New York that night with Henry 
Edgecomb to the theatre. A celebrated play was on, 
in which a celebrated actress figured, and the two had 
taken one of their rather infrequent excursions. Con- 
sequently, Anderson had not been in the house more 
than an hour, and during that hour had been writing 
some letters which he wished to get off in the early mail. 
His room was at the back of the house, a long room ex- 
tending nearly the whole width, consequently his own 
brightly shining light had not been visible to Charlotte 
coming up the street. 

As he was not undressed, he lost no time in opening 
his door and entering with his lamp the front hall. As 
he did so his mother's door opened, and her delicate, 
alarmed old face, frilled with white cambric, appeared. 

" Oh, who is it at this time of night, do you suppose, 
Randolph?" she whispered. 

"I don't know, mother dear; don't be frightened." 

But she came quite out in her white night draperies, 
which made her appear singularly massive. "Oh, do 
you suppose there are burglars in the store?" she said. 

"No. Don't worry, mother." 

"Do you suppose it is fire?" 

"No; there is no alarm." 

"Randolph, you won't open the door until you have 
asked who it is. Promise me." 

522 



THE DEBTOR 



"It is nobody to be afraid of, mother." 
"Promise me." 

"It is probably Henry come back for something. 
Harriet may have locked him out, and he forgotten 
his night -key." That was actually what had flashed 
through Randolph's mind when he heard the knock and 
ring. 

"Well, I shouldn't wonder if it was," said Mrs. An- 
derson, in a relieved tone. 

"Go back to bed, mother, or you will catch your 
death of cold." 

"But you will ask?" 

"Yes, yes." 

Anderson hurried down-stairs, and in consideration 
of his mother's listening ears of alarm, he did call out, 
"Who is there?" at the same time unlocking the door. 
It was manifest to his masculine intelligence, unham- 
pered by nerves, that no one with evil intent would 
thus strive to enter a house with a clang of knocker and 
peal of bell. He, therefore, having set the lamp on the 
hall -table, at once unlocked the door, and Charlotte 
pulled herself to her feet and her little, pretty, woe- 
begone face, in which was a new look for him and her- 
self, confronted him. Anderson did not say a word. 
He somehow — he never remembered how — laid hold of 
the little thing, and she was in the house, in the sitting- 
room, and in his arms, clinging to him. 

"Papa didn't come. Papa didn't come home," she 
sobbed, but so softly that Mrs. Anderson, who was listen- 
ing, did not hear. 

Anderson laid his cheek down against the girl's soft, 
wet one, as if it were the most natural thing in the 
world, as if he had been used to so doing ever since he 
could remember anything. There was no strangeness 
for either of them in it. He patted her poor little head, 
which felt cold from the frosty night air. 

5 2 3 



THE DEBTOR 



" There, there, dear," he said. 

"He didn't come home," she repeated, piteously, 
against his breast, and it was almost as if she were ac- 
cusing him because of it. 

"Poor little girl!" 

"Not on the last train. Papa didn't come on the 
last train, and — there was no telegram, and I — I was all 
alone in the house, and — and — I came." She sobbed 
convulsively. 

Anderson kissed her cheek softly, he continued to 
smooth the little, dark, damp head. "You did quite 
right," he whispered — "quite right, dear. You are safe 
now. Don't!" 

"Papa!" 

"Oh, some business detained him in the City." 

"What has happened to papa?" demanded Charlotte, 
in a shrill voice, and it was again as if she were uncon- 
sciously accusing Anderson. When a heart becomes 
confident of love, it is filled with wonder at any evil 
mischance permitted, and accuses love, even the love 
of God. "What has happened to papa? Where is 
he?" she demanded again. And it was then that Mrs. 
Anderson, unseen by either of them, stood in the door- 
way with an enormous purple-flowered wrapper surging 
over her nightgown. 

"Hush, dear!" whispered Anderson. "I am sure 
nothing has happened." 

"Why are you sure?" 

"If anything had happened I should have heard of 
it. I came out on the last train myself. If there had 
been an accident I should certainly have heard." 

"Would you?" 

"I surely should have. Don't, dear. Your father 
has just been detained by business." 
"Then why didn't papa telegraph?" 
"He did not get it in the office in season. The office 

5 2 4 



THE DEBTOR 



closes at half-past eight," said Anderson, lying cheer- 
fully. 

"Does it?" 

" Of course! There is nothing for you to worry about. 
Now I'll tell you what we will do. My mother is awake. 
I will speak to her, and you must go straight to bed, 
and go to sleep, and in the morning your father will 
be along on the first train. He must have been as 
much worried as you." 

"Poor papa," said Charlotte. 

"So you were all alone in the house, and you came 
down here all alone at this time," said Anderson, in a 
tone which his mother had never heard. But it was 
then that she spoke. 

"Didn't her father come home?" she asked. 

When the girl turned like a flash and saw her she 
seemed to realize for the first time that she had been, 
and was, doing something out of the wonted. A great, 
burning blush surged all over her. She shrank away 
from the man who held her. She cowered before the 
other woman. 

"No, papa didn't come," she stammered, "and — I 
didn't know what to do, and I came here." 

"You did quite right, you precious child," said Mrs. 
Anderson, suddenly, in a voice of the tenderest author- 
ity. She held out her arms and Charlotte fled to them. 
Mrs. Anderson looked over the girl's head at her son 
with the oddest and most inexplicable reproach. " You 
go up and see if the heat is turned on in that little room 
out of mine," she commanded, and then you go into the 
kitchen and see if you can't find the milk, and set some 
on the stove to warm. You can pour a little hot water 
in it to Hurry it. If the fire isn't good, open the dampers. 
And, Randolph, you get my hot-water bag out of my 
bed, and fill it from the tea-kettle — that water will be 
hotter than the bath-room, this time of night — and you 

525 



THE DEBTOR 

bring it right up; be as quick as you can." Then all 
in the same breath she was comforting Charlotte. " Your 
father is all right, dear child. Don't you worry one mite — 
not one mite. I remember once, when I was a girl, my 
father didn't come home, and mother and I were almost 
crazy, and he came in laughing the next morning. He 
had lost his last train because there was a block on ac- 
count of the ice. The river was frozen over. There is 
nothing for you to worry about. Now come right up- 
stairs and go to bed. There is a little room out of 
mine, as warm as toast, and you won't be a bit afraid. 
There you were all alone in that great house, you poor, 
blessed child." 

Charlotte sobbed, but now with a certain comfort. 

"I should have been so afraid, I should have lost my 
senses, all alone in a house at your age," said Mrs. Ander- 
son, all the time gently impelling the girl along with 
her. " Of course there is nothing to be afraid of, but 
one imagines things; and you came here all alone at 
this time of the night!" 

"Yes," responded Charlotte, with a gasp of the in- 
tensest self-pity, sure of an echo. 

Randolph ran up-stairs before his mother and Char- 
lotte and snatched the hot - water bottle out of his 
mother's bed, and was out the opposite door, which 
connected with the back stairs leading to the kitchen. 
As he went out he heard his mother say: "All that 
way alone this time of night, you poor, precious 
child!" and Charlotte's little, piteous, yet comforted 
sob in response, exactly as a hurt baby might re- 
spond to commiserations. He felt his own knees trem- 
ble as he went down -stairs, carrying the hot -water 
bottle, which had always struck him as a rather absurd 
article, to be regarded with the concessions which a 
man should make to the little, foolish devices for the 
comfort of a softer and slighter sex. He hunted up 

526 



THE DEBTOR 



the milk in the ice-box, and warmed it with solicitude 
in a china cup, which, luckily, did not break. The fire 
was still very good, and the water in the tea-kettle quite 
boiling. It was not long before he knocked at his 
mother's door, bearing the water-bottle dangling on one 
wrist, and carrying the cup of milk. His mother opened 
the door just wide enough to receive the articles. 

"Is the milk hot?" she asked. 

Randolph meekly replied that it had almost boiled. 

"The water-bottle is hot, too," said his mother, in a 
satisfied tone. "She is undressed. I got one of my night- 
gowns for her, and it is quite warm in the little room. 
Now I am going to take this in to her, and make her 
drink the milk, and I hope she will get to sleep/'* 

"I hope she will,"' replied Randolph, in a sort of 
dazed fashion, and there was a foolish radiance over 
his face, and he did not meet his mother's eyes. 

"I'm coming into your room a minute, after I see 
to her," said his mother, and if the man had been a 
child the tone would have sounded ominous. 

"All right, mother," replied Anderson. He crossed 
the hall to his room lined with books, with the narrow 
couch. It hardly seemed like a bedroom, and indeed 
he spent much of his time, when not at the store, there. 
He resumed his seat in the well-worn easy-chair beside 
his hearth, upon which smouldered a fire, and waited. 
He still felt dazed. He had that doubt of his own 
identity which comes to us at times, and which is 
primeval under stress of a great surprise. The old 
nursery rhyme of the old woman who had her petticoats 
clipped and was not sure of herself, has a truth in it 
which dates from the beginning of things. Anderson, 
sitting precisely as he had been sitting before in the 
same chair by the same hearth — he had even taken up 
the same book in which he had thought to read a chap- 
ter after his letters were finished, before retiring — was 

5 2 7 



THE DEBTOR 

as completely removed from his former state as if he 
had been translated into another planet. He looked 
around the long room, which had a dark, rich coloring 
from the backs of old books, and some dark red hang- 
ings, and even that had a curious appearance of un- 
substantially to him. Or was it substantiality. Sud- 
denly it seemed to him that heretofore he had seen it 
all through a glass, and now with his natural eyes. He 
had attained a height of nature whence the prospect is 
untrammelled by imaginations and shows in the clear 
light of reality. He thought of the girl whom his 
mother was coddling, tucking into bed as if she were a 
baby, and such a wave of tenderness and protection 
came over him that he felt newly vivified by it. It 
was as if his very soul put forth arms and wings of love 
and defence. 

"The dear little girl!" he thought to himself — "the 
dear little girl!" 

The thought that she was safe under his roof, away 
from all fancied and real terror, rilled him with such a 
joy that he could scarcely contain it. He imagined her 
nestling in that warm little bed out of his mother's 
room, and the satisfaction that he might have felt had 
she been his child instead of his sweetheart, filled him 
with pure delight. He tried to imagine her terrors, 
her young-girl terrors, alone in that house, her panic 
running alone through the night streets, and he even 
magnified it through inability to understand it. He 
said to himself that she might have almost gone mad, 
and again that sublime joy, that immense sense of the 
protection and tenderness of love, rilled his soul, which 
seemed to put forth wings. Then the door opened and 
his mother entered softly, slipping through in her vo- 
luminous, purple - flowered draperies, with glimpses of 
white frills and large padding feet in purple-knitted 
slippers. She still wore her frilled nightcap, and her 

528 



THE DEBTOR 



face confronted him from the white setting with a 
curious severity. Her hair was put up on crimping- 
pins, and her high forehead gave her a rather intellect- 
ual and stern appearance, and she looked much older. 

Randolph rose. "Sit down, mother," he said. 

"No; I am not going to stop a minute. I am going 
back to her. She seemed real quiet, and I think she'll 
go to sleep, but if she should wake up and find herself 
alone she might be frightened/ ' 

Mrs. Anderson spoke as if of a baby in arms. 

"Yes, she might; she has had a terrible shock," An- 
derson said, in what he essayed to render a natural 
tone. 

"Terrible shock! I should think she had, poor 
child!" said Mrs. Anderson, and she seemed to reproach 
him. 

"It was a long way for her to come alone," said An- 
derson, as if he were trying to excuse himself. 

"I should think it was. It's a good mile, and that 
wasn't the worst of it. Worrying about her father, 
and all alone in the house! I was always scared to 
death alone in a house, and I know what it means." 
She still seemed reproachful. 

"She must have been frightened." 

"I should rather think she would have been." Sud- 
denly his mother's face regarding his took on a differ- 
ent expression; it became shrewd and confidential. 
"Do you suppose her father has taken this way of — ?" 
she said. 

"No," answered Randolph, emphatically. 
"You don't?" 

"No, I do not. I don't know the man very well, and 
I don't suppose his record is to be altogether justified, 
but, if I know anything, he would no more go voluntarily 
and leave that child alone all night to worry over him 
than I would." 

34 529 



THE DEBTOR 



"Then you think something has happened to him?" 
"I am afraid so." 

"Do you think there has been an accident?' 
"I don't know, mother." 

His mother continued to look at him shrewdly. "Do 
you suppose he has got into any trouble?" she asked, 
bluntly. 

"I don't know, mother.' 

Then Mrs. Anderson's face suddenly resumed its old, 
reproachful expression. "Well, I don't care if there 
has," said she. She whispered, but her voice was in- 
tense. " I don't care if there has. I don't care if he 
is in state-prison. That child has got to caring about 
you, and you ought to — " 

Anderson turned and looked at his mother, and her 
severe face softened and paled. He looked to her at 
that moment more like his father than himself. He 
was accusing her. 

"Mother, do you think, if she cares, that I would ever 
desert her, any more than father would have deserted 
you?" he demanded. 

It was her turn to excuse herself. "I know you are 
honorable, Randolph," she said, "but I saw when I 
came in, and I don't see how you have seen enough 
of her to have it happen; but I know girls, and I can 
see how she feels, and I didn't know but you might 
think if her father — " 

"What difference do you think her father makes to 
me, mother?" asked Anderson. 



CHAPTER XL 



When Carroll came to himself that night after his 
fall, his first conscious motion was for his dollar watch. 
He was in William Allbright's bed. There were only 
two sleeping-apartments in the little tenement. William 
was seated beside him, watching him with his faithful, 
serious face; there was also a physician, keenly observ- 
ant, still closer to the injured man's head ; and the 
sister, Allbright's sister, was visible in the next room, 
seated in a chair which commanded a good view of the 
bed. It was Allbright who had rescued Carroll from 
the station-house; for when he did not rise, the usual 
crowd, who directly attribute all failures to recover 
one's self from a manifestly inappropriate recumbent 
position, had collected, and several policemen were on 
the scene. 

"I know this gentleman/' Allbright said, in his 
rather humble, still half - respectful, voice, which car- 
ried conviction. "I know this gentleman. I have 
been a book-keeper in his office. He slipped on the ice. 
I saw him fall. He is not drunk." 

One of the policemen, who had been long in the 
vicinity and knew Allbright, as from the heights of the 
law one might know an unimportant and unoffending 
citizen, responded. 

"All right," he said, laconically. "Hospital?" 

''Guess he's hurted pretty bad," remarked another 
policeman, who was a handsome athlete. 

"Hospital?" inquired the first, who was a man of few 
words, of Allbright. 

53i 



THE DEBTOR 



"I guess we'd better have him taken to my house. 
It's right here,*' replied Allbright. "Then we'll call in 
Dr. Wilson and see how much is the matter with him. 
Maybe he's only stunned. The hospital is apt to be a 
long siege, and if there isn't any need of it — " 

"His house is right here," said the first policeman to 
the second, with a stage aside. 

"All right," said the second. 

A boy pulled Allbright by the sleeve. ''Say, I'll go 
for the doc," he cried, eagerly. He was enjoying the 
situation keenly. 

"Well," replied Allbright, "be quick about it. Tell 
him there's a man badly hurt at my house." 

The boy sped like a rocket, and three more with him. 
They all yelled as they ran. They were street gamins 
of the better class, and were both sympathetic and en- 
tertained. They lived in a tenement-house near All- 
bright, and knew him quite well by sight. 

Meantime the two policemen carried Carroll the short 
distance to William Allbright's house. He was quite un- 
conscious, and it was an undertaking of considerable dif- 
ficulty to carry him up the stairs, since the Allbrights 
lived in the second story. 

The clerk in the department store, and his mother, 
who lived on the first floor, came to their door in un- 
dress and offered their hospitality, but Mr. Allbright 
declined their aid. 

"No," he said. "I know him. It is Mr. Carroll. 
He had better be taken up to my rooms." 

When at last they laid the unconscious man on All- 
bright's bed, which his sister, pale, and yet with a col- 
lected ness under such surprising circumstances which 
spoke well for her, had opened, the policeman who was 
not an athlete, and was, in fact, too stout, wiped his fore- 
head and said, "Gee." 

The other remained looking at the injured man soberly. 

532 



THE DEBTOR 



"Guess he's hurted pretty bad," he remarked again. 

"You bet," said the first. "Gee!" 

Allbright's sister came with the camphor -bottle, 
which she kept in a sort of folk-lore fashion, as her 
mother had used to do in the country. Allbright 
brought the whiskey, of which he kept a small supply 
in the house in case of dire need, and stood over Carroll 
with that and a teaspoon, with a vague idea of trying 
to insinuate a few drops into his mouth. 

The two policemen clamped heavily down-stairs, agree- 
ing that they would remain until the doctor came, and 
see if it Was to be the hospital after all. 

"Guess he's hurted pretty bad," remarked the hand- 
some policeman for the third time. 

The doctor came quickly, almost on a run. He lived 
within a block, and had not a large practice. He was 
attended by a large throng of boys, for the three had 
served as a nucleus for many more. He turned around 
to them with an imperative gesture as he entered the 
house door. 

"Now you scatter," said he. He was a fair man, but 
he had at once an appeal of good-fellowship and a cer- 
tain force of character. Besides, there were the two 
policemen hovering near. The boys withdrew and re- 
mained watching in the dark shadows cast by an op- 
posite house. In case the injured man was carried to 
the hospital, and the ambulance should come, they 
could not afford to miss that. They had not so many 
pleasures in life. 

The doctor mounted the stairs ; he had been there be- 
fore, for Allbright's sister was more or less of an invalid, 
and he at once abetted Allbright's purpose of the few 
drops of stimulant on the teaspoon, which the patient 
swallowed with a pathetic, gulping passiveness like a 
baby's. 

"He swallows all right," remarked Allbright's sister, 
533 



THE DEBTOR 



in an agitated voice. She stood aloof, waving the 
camphor-bottle; her eyes were dilated, and her face had 
a pale, gaping look. 

" You go out in the other room and stay there," said 
the doctor to her, with the authority which a hysterical 
woman defers to and adores. 

Allbright's sister was a very good woman, but she 
had sometimes imagined, then directly driven the imag- 
ination from her with a spiritual scourge like a monk 
of old, what might have happened if the doctor were 
not already married. 

Carroll's forehead was dripping with camphor, and 
there was danger should he open his eyes. The doctor 
wiped the pale forehead gently and spoke to him. 

"Well, you had quite a hard fall, sir/' he said, in a 
loud, cheerful voice, and directly Carroll answered, like 
a somnambulist : 

"Yes, quite a fall." 

Then he seemed to lapse again into unconsciousness. 
The doctor and Allbright remained working over him, 
but it was within fifteen minutes before the time when 
the last train for Banbridge was due to leave New 
York that he made the first absolutely conscious mo- 
tion. 

"He is feeling for his watch," said Allbright, in an 
agitated whisper. His wits were sharpened with re- 
gard to Carroll's watch. Carroll's coat and vest had 
been removed, and were hanging over a chair. All- 
bright at once got the dollar watch from its pocket 
and carried it over to the sick man. "Here is your 
watch, Mr. Carroll," he said, and his voice was full of 
both respectful and tender inflections. 

A sob was distinctly heard from Allbright's sister out 
in the sitting-room. The woman from down-stairs, the 
department clerk's mother, was now with her. 

"He wants to see if his watch is safe, poor man," 
534 



THE DEBTOR 



said she, in a tearful voice, and Allbright's sister whim- 
pered again. 

44 It's a wonder some of them kids didn't swipe it," 
said the down-stairs woman, and Allbright's sister was 
conscious of a distinct thrill of disgust in the midst of 
her excitement and pity. She was of a superior sort 
to the down-stairs woman, and she often told her broth- 
er she could not get used to folks using such language. 

Poor Carroll was looking dimly at his watch, and All- 
bright at once divined that he could not distinguish the 
time without his eye-glasses He therefore leaned over 
him — his own spectacles were on his nose — and told him 
the time. 

"It's almost seventeen minutes past twelve, Mr. 
Carroll," he said. 

Carroll made a movement to rise, then subsided with 
a groan. "Where am I?" he inquired, feebly, with a 
bewildered stare around the strange room. Directly 
opposite him hung a large crayon portrait of Allbright's 
father, a handsome man with a reverend beard like a 
prophet, and his eyes became riveted upon that. 

"You are in my house, Mr. Carroll," said Allbright, 
with a tender, caressing motion of his hand towards him, 
like a woman. 

"You had a fall on the ice, Mr. Carroll," said the 
physician, in a tone of soothing explanation, "but you 
will soon be as good as new." 

"How far up-town?" inquired Carroll, still gazing at 
the portrait, which had an odd hardness of outline, and 
appeared almost as if carved out of wood. 

"You are at One Hundred and Twenty -fifth Street," 
replied Allbright. "You are at my house, Mr. Carroll. 
You fell right out here, and I had you carried in here." 

Carroll tried again to rise, and made a despairing gasp. 
"Oh, my God!" he said. "I have lost the last train 
out. There isn't time to get down to the ferry, and 
35 535 



THE DEBTOR 



there is that poor child all alone there, and she won't 
know — " 

"You can send a telegram," suggested the doctor. 
"Now, Mr. Carroll, don't get excited.' 

"She will be all right," said Allbright. 

"What is it?" asked the down-stairs woman, coming 
to the door. 

"His daughter is all alone in the house, I guess, and 
he's worried about her," explained Allbright. 

"There ain't nothin' goin' to eat her, if she is, is 
there?" inquired the down-stairs woman. 

"I'll run with a telegram," said Allbright, eagerly, 
to the doctor. 

But at that moment Carroll lapsed into unconscious- 
ness. The excitement had been too much for him. He 
lay as if asleep. 

"Where does he live?" asked the doctor, of All- 
bright. 

"I don't know exactly. Somewhere out on the Penn- 
sylvania Railroad." 

"You don't know?" repeated the doctor, with a faint 
accent of surprise. * 

Allbright shook his head. 

"You were book-keeper in his office?" 

"Yes, but I haven't been there for some time. I 
never asked any questions." 

The doctor turned and looked at Carroll. Then he 
went out of the room, with Allbright following, and gave 
him some directions. He asked for a glass two-thirds 
full of water and poured some dark drops into it. 

"The minute he gets conscious again give him a 
spoonful of this," he said, "and you had better sit be- 
side him and watch him." Then he turned to AH- 
bright's sister, who was trembling from head to foot 
with a nervous chill. " You take a dose of that whiskey 
your brother gave him," he said, jerking his shoulder 

536 



THE DEBTOR 



towards the inner room, "then go to bed, and don't 
worry your head about him." 

"Oh, doctor, he isn't going to die here?" 

"Die here? No, nor nowhere else for one while. 
There is nothing the matter with the man except he 
bumped his head rather too hard for comfort." 

"How long is he likely to be here on their hands?" 
inquired the down-stairs woman. 

"He will be able to go home in the morning, I think," 
said the doctor. 

"Oh, doctor, you aren't going to go away and leave 
us with a strange man as sick as he is?" asked All- 
bright's sister, hysterically. She shook so that she 
could scarcely speak. 

"You won't have to worry half so much over a strange 
man as you would over one you know," replied the 
doctor, jocosely, "and he is not very sick. He will be 
all right soon. Now you take some of your brother's 
medicine and go to bed, for I have six cases to visit 
to-night before I go home, and I don't want another." 

Allbright's sister bridled with an odd, inexplicable 
pride. She did not like to be a burden on her brother, 
nor make trouble, but there was a certain satisfaction 
in having the down-stairs woman, w T ho, she had always 
suspected, rather made light of her ailments, hear for 
herself that she was undoubtedly delicate. Even the 
minor and apparently paradoxical pretensions of life 
are dear to their possessors in lieu of others. 

"Very well. I suppose I've got to mind the doctor," 
she replied, and even smiled foolishly and blushed. 

The doctor turned to Allbright. 

"I think he will be all right in the morning," he said ; 
"a bit light-headed, of course, but all right. However, 
don't let him go home before noon, on your life. I will 
look in in the morning before he goes." And then he 
turned to Allbright's sister. "On second thought, I will 

537 



THE DEBTOR 



let you make a good big bowl of that gruel of yours be- 
fore you go to bed," he said; "then he can take it in 
the course of the night if he is able ; and beat him up 
some eggs in the morning." 

"I'll make the gruel if she ain't able," said the down- 
stairs woman, in a tone vibrating between kindness 
and scorn. 

"Thank you. I am quite able to make it," said 
Allbright's sister, and she was full of small triumph and 
persistency. Yes, she would make the gruel, even if 
she was so very delicate that she ought to go at once 
to bed. It was quite evident that she thought that the 
down-stairs woman could not make gruel good enough 
for that man in there, anyway. 

"Well, I guess Til go," said the down-stairs woman, 
"as long as I don't seem to be of any use. If there was 
anything I could do, I'd stay." And she went. 

"The idea of her coming up here and trying to find 
out what was going on!" Allbright's sister said to her 
brother as she was getting the meal ready for the gruel. 
"I never saw such a curious woman." 

"If we hadn't got so attached to the place we would 
move," said Allbright, w r ho was leaving his patient 
momentarily, to change his shoes for slippers. 

"I know it," said the sister, "but I can't help feeling 
attached to the place, we have lived here so long; and 
there is that beautiful cherry-tree out in the yard, and 
everything." 

"That is so," said Allbright. 

"I am glad Mr. Carroll didn't have to be carried to 
a hospital." 

" I suppose he would have been if I had not happened 
to be right on the spot," said Allbright, reflectively, to 
his sister. 

"You think he'll be all right in the morning, don't 

you?" 

538 



THE DEBTOR 



"Oh yes, the doctor said so!" 

Outside, the watching boys in the shadow of the 
church disappointedly vanished, cheated of their small 
and grewsome excitement, when they saw the doctor 
quietly walk towards his house and realized that there 
was to be no ambulance and no hospital. 

"Gee! I've had knocks harder 'n that, and never 
said nothin' about it," said one boy as he scurried away 
with the others towards his home in the high tenement- 
house. 



CHAPTER XLI 



It was quite early the next morning when Charlotte 
received the telegram that her father had had a fall on 
the ice, was not badly injured, and would be home on 
the noon train. Anderson had gone very early to the 
telegraph-office. It was being ticked off in Andrew 
Drake's drug -store when he inquired, and the boy 
viewed him with intense curiosity when he took the 
message, but did not dare ask any questions. Ander- 
son hurried home with it to Charlotte, who was not yet 
up. Mrs. Anderson had insisted upon her having her 
breakfast in bed, and she had yielded readily. In fact, 
she was both too confused and too ashamed to see 
Anderson. She dreaded seeing him. She was as simple 
as a child, and she reasoned simply. 

"He held me in his arms and kissed me last night, 
the way Major Arms would have done with Ina," she 
told herself, "and of course I suppose I must be en- 
gaged to him; but I don't know what he must think of 
me for coming here the way I did. It was almost as if 
I asked him first." She wondered if Mrs. Anderson had 
seen. But Mrs. Anderson's manner to her was of such 
complete and caressing motherliness that she could not 
have much fear of her. In reality, the older woman, 
who had an active imagination, was slightly jealous, in 
view of future possibilities. 

"I wonder if they will think they ought to sit by 
themselves evenings," she reflected. She looked at the 
girl's slight grace in the bed, and the little, dark head 

54o 



THE DEBTOR 



sunken in the pillow, and she wondered how in the 
world the mother of a girl like that could stay one 
minute in Kentucky and leave her. "She must be a 
pretty woman!" she thought to herself. Already she 
hated the other mother-in-law, and she felt almost a 
maternal right to the girl. She recalled what she had 
seen the night before, and thrills of tender reminiscence 
came over her. "Randolph will make just such a good 
husband as his father/' she thought to herself, and then 
she rather resented his superior right over the girl, as 
she might have done if it had not been a question of her 
own son, and Charlotte had been her own daughter. 
She loved her as she loved the daughter she had never 
had. She stroked her hair softly as it curled over the 
pillow. 

"You have such pretty hair, dear," she said, with posi- 
tive pride. The little, flushed face looked up at her. 

Charlotte had just finished her breakfast. Anderson 
had brought the telegram and gone, and the two were 
alone. It was arranged that Charlotte was to get up 
in an hour, and that Mrs. Anderson was to go home with 
her in one of Samson Rawdy's coaches. 

"We will take my maid, and she can get the furnace 
fire started," she said, "and help about the dinner." 

"I had such a nice dinner all ready last night," Char- 
lotte said, "and I am afraid it must be spoiled now." 

"Never mind. We will get another," said Mrs. An- 
derson. 

Both Anderson and his mother had succeeded in 
quieting Charlotte's lingering fears concerning her father. 

"He probably got stunned," Anderson said; "and he 
cannot be very bad or he would not be coming home 
on the noon train." He was talking to Charlotte from 
his mother's room, with the door ajar. 

There was something conclusive in Anderson's voice 
which reassured Charlotte. 

54i 



THE DEBTOR 



"My son would not say so unless he thought so," 
said Mrs. Anderson. "He never says a thing he does 
not mean." She spoke with a double meaning which 
Charlotte wholly missed. It had not occurred to her 
that Mr. Anderson would have taken her in his arms 
last night and kissed her and comforted her, if he had 
not been thoroughly in earnest and in love^ with her. 
She supposed, of course, he wished to marry her. All 
that troubled her was her own course in practically pro- 
posing to him. Presently, after she and Mrs. Ander- 
son were alone together, she tried to say something about 
this to the other woman. 

"I don't know as I ought to have come here last 
night," she said, "but — " 

"Where else would you have gone?" inquired Mrs. 
Anderson. 

Charlotte looked up at her piteously. "I hope Mr. 
Anderson didn't think I — I — ought not to," she whis- 
pered, and she felt her cheeks blazing with shame. She 
did not know if Mrs. Anderson really knew, but she was 
as much ashamed. 

Mrs. Anderson stooped over her and laid her soft 
old cheek against the soft young one. "My precious 
child!" she whispered. "I could not help seeing last 
night, and this was just the place for you to come, for 
this is your home, or is going to be; isn't it, dear?" 

Charlotte put up her soft little arms around the 
other woman's neck, and began to cry softly. "Oh," 
she sobbed, "I don't want him to think that I — " 

"Hush, dear! He will think nothing he ought not 
to think," said Mrs. Anderson, who did not, in reality, 
know in the least what the girl was troubled about, 
but rather thought it possible that she might fear lest 
her son was not in earnest in his attentions, on her 
father's account. She did not imagine Charlotte's 
faith and pride in her father. "My son cares a great 

542 



THE DEBTOR 



deal for you, dear child, or he would never have done 
as he did last night,' ' she said, "and some day we are 
all going to be very happy." 

Charlotte continued to sob softly, but not altogether 
unhappily. 

"My son will make a very good husband," Mrs. 
Anderson said, with a slight inflection of pride. "He 
will make a good husband, just as his father did." 

" He is the best man I ever saw, except papa," cried 
Charlotte then, with a great gulp of blissful confession, 
and the two women wept in each other's arms. "I 
will try and make him a good wife," Charlotte whis- 
pered, softly. 

"Of course you will, you precious child." 

But suddenly Charlotte raised herself a little and 
looked at Mrs. Anderson with a troubled face. "But 
I can't leave papa all alone," she said, "and your son 
would not want to leave you." 

" Of course my son could not leave me," Mrs. Ander- 
son said, quickly. 

"I could not leave papa all alone." 

"Well, we won't worry about that now, dear," Mrs. 
Anderson replied, although her forehead was slightly 
knitted. "Your mother and aunt will be back; some 
way will be opened. We will not worry about that 
now." 

. Charlotte blushed painfully at the thought that she 
had been hasty about making preparations for the 
marriage, and had shocked Mrs. Anderson. "You 
don't think papa is very badly hurt?" she said. 

"Why, of course not, dear. Didn't you hear what 
Randolph said? He probably was stunned. It is so 
easy to get stunned from a fall on the ice. My hus- 
band got a bad fall once, one icy Sunday as we were 
coming home from the church. They had to carry him 
into Mr. John Bemis's house, and he did not come to 

543 



THE DEBTOR 



for several hours. I thought he was killed. I never 
was so frightened except once when Randolph had the 
croup. But he got all over it. His head was a little 
sore, but that was all. I presume it was black and 
blue under his hair. Randolph's father had beautiful 
thick hair just like his. I dare say he was not hurt 
so badly, because of that. Your father has thick hair, 
hasn't he?" 
"Yes." 

"Well, I dare say he struck on his head, just as my 
husband did, and was stunned. I dare say that was 
just what happened. Of course he did not break any 
bones, or he would not be coming home on the noon 
train. I don't believe they would let him out from the 
hospital so soon as that, even if he had only broken 
his arm." 

"Oh, do you think they carried him to a hospital?" 

"They took him somewhere where he was taken care 
of, or he would not be coming home on the noon train," 
said Mrs. Anderson. "It is almost time for you to get 
up, and I want you to drink another cup of coffee. 
You came here without any hat, didn't you, poor 
child?" 

"Yes." 

"Well, I haven't got any hat, and you can't wear one 
of my bonnets, but I have a pretty white head-tie that 
you can wear ; and nobody will see you in the closed car- 
riage, anyway." 

"I am making so much trouble," said Charlotte. 

"You precious child!" said Mrs. Anderson; "when 
I think of you all alone in that house!" 

"It was dreadful," Charlotte said, with a shudder. 
"I suppose there was nothing at all to be afraid of, but 
I imagined all kinds of things." 

"The things people imagine are more to be afraid of 
than the things they see, sometimes," Mrs. Anderson 

544 



THE DEBTOR 



said, wisely "Now, I think perhaps you had better 
get up, dear, and you must drink another cup of coffee. 
I think there will be just about time enough for you to 
drink it and get dressed before the carriage comes." 

Mrs. Anderson took the pride in assisting the girl to 
dress that she had done in dressing her son when he was 
a child. She even noticed, with the tenderest com- 
miseration instead of condemnation, that the lace on 
her undergarments was torn, and that there were but- 
tons missing. 

''Poor dear child, she never had any decent train- 
ing/' she said to herself. She anticipated teaching 
Charlotte to take care of her clothes, as she might have 
done if she had been her own girl baby. " I guess her 
clothes won't look like this when I have had her awhile," 
she said to herself, eying furtively some torn lace on 
the girl's slender white shoulder. 

When the}?- were at last driving through the streets 
of Banbridge, she felt unspeakably proud, and also a 
little defiant. 

"I suppose there are plenty of people who will say 
Randolph is a fool to marry a girl whose father has 
done the way hers has," she told herself, "but I don't 
care. There isn't a girl in Banbridge to compare with 
her. I don't care; they can say what they want to." 
She was so excited that she had put on her bonnet, 
which had a little jet aigrette on top, awry. After a 
while Charlotte timidly ventured to speak of it and 
straighten it, and the tenderest thrill of delight came 
over the older woman at the daughterly attention. 

She told Randolph that noon, after she had got 
home, that she was really surprised to see how well the 
poor child, with no training at all, had kept the house, 
and she said it, remembering quite distinctly a white 
shade of dust in full view on the parlor-table. 

"Her dinner was all dried up, of course," she said, 
545 



THE DEBTOR 



"but I thought it looked as if it might have been quite 
nice when it was first cooked." 

Already Mrs. Anderson was becoming deceptive for 
the sake of the girl. She had carried a box of provisions 
to the house, and they had stopped at the fish-market 
and bought some oysters; and Mrs. Anderson had taught 
Charlotte how to make a stew, and retreated before 
it was quite time for Carroll to arrive. She felt in 
her heart of hearts that she could not see him yet. 
Even her love for the girl did not yet reconcile her to 
Carroll. Charlotte was so glad that her little purse was 
in her coat-pocket and that she had enough money to 
pay for the oysters. She felt that she could not have 
borne it had she been obliged to borrow money of Mrs. 
Anderson. She felt that it would reflect upon her 
father. Already she had an instinctive jealousy on 
her father's account. She loved Mis. Anderson, but 
she felt vaguely that not enough was said, even there 
was not enough anxiety displayed, with, regard to her 
father. She reflected with the fiercest loyalty that 
even although she did love Mr. Anderson, although she 
had let him kiss her, although at the mere memory 
thrills of delight overwhelmed her, she would not ever 
admit even to herself that he was any better than her 
father — her poor father who had been hurt and whom 
everybody was blaming and accusing. Directly after 
Mrs. Anderson and the maid had gone, she began mak- 
ing the oyster-stew. It would not be quite so good as 
if she had waited until her father had really arrived, 
and Mrs. Anderson had told her so, but Charlotte could 
not bear to wait. She wished him to have something 
nice and hot the minute he came in. The water boiled 
and she made the tea. Mrs. Anderson had said that 
the tea might be better for him than coffee, and she also 
made toast. Then she went again into the parlor to 
the window, as she had done the night before, but it 

546 



THE DEBTOR 



was all so different now. She was so happy that she 
was confused by it. She had not been brought up, as 
one would say, religiously, although she had always 
gone to church, but now she realized a strange uplifting 
of her thoughts above the happiness itself, to a sense 
of God. She was conscious of a thankfulness which at 
once exalted and humbled her. She sat down beside 
the window and looked out, and everything, every dry 
spear of grass and every slender twig on the trees, was 
streaming like rainbows in the frosty air. It came to 
her what an unspeakable blessing it was that she had 
been allowed to come into a world where there were so 
many rainbows and so much happiness, and how nothing 
but more rainbows and happiness could come of these. 
That there was nothing whatever to dread in the future. 
And she thought now her father was coming home, and 
she thought of all her horrible imaginations of the night 
before as she might have thought of a legion of routed 
fiends. And soon Samson Rawdy drove her father into 
the grounds, and she ran to the door. She opened it 
and went to the carriage with her arms extended, but 
he got out himself, laughing. 

"Did you think I wanted help, honey?" he said, but 
though he laughed, he walked weakly and his face was 
very pale. 

He paid Samson Rawdy, who opened his mouth as if 
to say something, then looked at Carroll's pale face and 
changed his mind, getting rather stiffly up on his seat — 
he was growing stout — and driving away. 

"Oh, papa!" Charlotte said, slipping her arm through 
his and nestling close up to him as they went into the 
house. 

Carroll bent down and kissed her. "Papa's poor lit- 
tle girl!" he said. "It was mighty hard on her, wasn't 
it?" 

"Oh, papa, you are not hurt very badly?" 
547 



THE DEBTOR 



"Not hurt at all, sweetheart. I, to put it simply, 
tumbled down on the ice and hit my head, and was so 
stunned that I did not come to myself until it was too 
late for the last train." 

"Oh, papa, where were you? Did they carry you 
to a hospital ?" 

"No, dear. I was very near a man who used to keep 
my books before I gave up my office, and he had me 
carried to his house, which was near by, and he and his 
sister did everything for me, they and their doctor." 

"They must be such good people!" said Charlotte. 

"Such good people that I can never pay them," said 
Carroll, in an odd voice. They had entered the house 
and were going through the hall. "Not in other ways 
than money," he added, quickly. "I owe him noth- 
ing." It was the first time that Carroll had ever at- 
tempted to justify himself to his child, but at that mo- 
ment the sting of thinking that she might suspect that 
he owed Allbright money was more than he could bear. 

When they were in the dining-room, Carroll turned 
and looked at Charlotte. "My poor little girl! What 
did you think, and what did you do?" said he. 

She threw her arms around his neck again and clung 
to him. "Oh, papa, when you didn't come, when the 
last train went by and you didn't come, I thought — " 

"Poor little sweetheart!" 

" I went down to the six -o'clock train, and then I wait- 
ed for the next, and then I came home, and I watched, 
and the telegraph - boy came to tell me there was no 
telegram, and I had the dinner keeping warm on the 
back of the range; it was beefsteak cooked that way in 
the cook-book, and there was a pudding," said Char- 
lotte, incoherently, and she began to weep against her 
father's shoulder. 

In reality, the girl's nerves were nearer the over- 
strained point now than they had been before. She 

548 



THE DEBTOR 



was so glad to have her father home, she was so dazed 
by her new happiness, and there was something about 
her father's white face which frightened her in a subtle 
fashion. There was a changed meaning in it beside the 
sick look. 

"Poor little girl!" Carroll said again. "Did you have 
to stay here alone all night?" 

"No, papa. I stayed just as long as I could, and 
then I went out, and I ran — " 

"Where, dear?" 

"I ran to—" 

Carroll waited. Charlotte had turned her face as 
far away from him as she could as she leaned against 
him, but one ear was burning red. 

" I ran to the — Andersons'. You know Mr. Anderson, 
that time when I was so frightened by the tramp — You 
know I stayed there to tea, that — Mrs. Anderson was 
very kind," said Charlotte, in a stammering and inco- 
herent voice. 

"Oh," said Carroll. 

Suddenly Charlotte raised her head, and she looked 
at him quite bravely, with an innocent confidence. 
"Papa," said she, "you needn't think I am ever going 
to leave you, not until Amy and the others come back, 
because I never will. You never will think so?" 

"No, darling," said Carroll. His face grew paler. 

"But," continued Charlotte, "when I went to the 
Andersons' last night, I rang the bell, and I pounded 
with the knocker, too, I was so frightened, and Mr. 
Anderson came right away. He had been to New 
York himself, to the theatre, and he had not been home 
long, and — " 

Carroll waited. 

"I am never going to leave you, papa," said Char- 
lotte, "and I love you just as much. I love you just 
as much as I do — him, only, of course, it is different. 

549 



THE DEBTOR 



You needn't think I don't. There is nobody like you. 
But he — if you don't mind, papa, I think I will marry 
Mr. Anderson sometime, the way Ina did Major Arms." 

Carroll did not speak for a moment, lie continued 
looking at her with an expression made up of various 
emotions — trouble, relief, shame. 

"He is a very good man," said Charlotte, in a half- 
defensive tone. "He is the best man I ever saw, ex- 
cept you, papa." 

Carroll bent down and kissed her. "You are very 
sure you love him, are you, dear?" he said. 

"Why, papa, of course I am! I never could see how 
Ina could love Major Arms enough to marry him, but 
I can see how anybody could be glad to marry Mr. 
Anderson." 

"Then I am very glad, sweetheart," Carroll said, 
with a curious quietness, almost weariness. 

"His mother is lovely, too," said Charlotte. 

"That is nice, dear, for I suppose you will live with 
them." 

"When Amy and the others come back," said Char- 
lotte. "I am not- ever going to leave you, papa. You 
know it, don't you?" 

"Yes, sweetheart," said Carroll, still with the same 
curious, weary quiet. 

Charlotte looked at him anxiously. "Does your 
head ache now, papa?" she asked. 

"No, dear." 

"But you don't feel well. You are very pale." 

"I feel a little weak, that is all, dear." 

"You will feel better when you have had dinner. 
Mrs. Anderson came home with me, she and her maid, 
and she gave me some lovely thin slices of ham, and 
there is an oyster-stew, and some tea. Sit down, papa 
dear, and we will have dinner right away." 

Carroll made a superhuman effort to eat that dinner, 

55° 



THE DEBTOR 



but still the look whose strangeness rather than pale- 
ness puzzled Charlotte never left his face. She kept 
looking at him. 

"You won't go to New York again to-morrow, will 
you, papa?" said she. 

"No, dear. I don't think so." 

"I wish you wouldn't go again this week, papa. 
To-day is Thursday." 

"Perhaps I won't, dear." 

After dinner Carroll lay down on the divan in the 
den and Charlotte covered him up, and after a while 
he fell asleep; but even asleep, when she stole in to look 
at him, there was the same strange expression on his 
face. It was the face of a man whose mind is set irrev- 
ocably to an end. A martyr going to the stake might 
have had that same look, or even a criminal who was 
going to his doom with a sense of its being his just 
deserts, and with the bravery that befitted a man. 

That evening Anderson came to call, and Carroll an- 
swered the door-bell. He took him into the parlor, 
and spoke at once of the subject uppermost in the 
minds of both. 

"Charlotte has told me," Carroll said, simply. He 
extended his hand with a pathetic, deprecatory air. 
"You know what you are doing when you ask for my 
daughter's hand," he said. "You know she might have 
a parentage which would reflect more credit upon her." 

"I am quite satisfied," Anderson replied, in a low 
voice. All at once, looking at the other man, it struck 
him that he had never in his life pitied any one to such 
an extent, and that he pitied him all the more because 
Carroll seemed one to resent pity. 

"This much I will say — I can say it confidently now," 
said Carroll, "I shall meet all my indebtedness. You 
will have no reason to hesitate on that account," but he 
paused a moment. "I am driven to resorting to any 
36 55* 



THE DEBTOR 



honest method which I can find to enable me so to do," 
he continued. He made a slight emphasis upon the 
word honest. 

"I can understand that as fully, possibly, as any 
man," Anderson replied, gravely. 

Carroll looked at him. " Yes, so you can," he said — 
''so you can. Well, this much I will say for myself, 
Mr. Anderson. I am proud and glad to confide my 
daughter to your keeping. I am satisfied, and more 
than satisfied, with her choice." 

" Thank you," replied Anderson. He felt a con- 
straint, even embarrassment, as if he had been a very 
young man. He was even conscious of blushing a 
little. 

"Sit down," said Carroll, placing a chair for him, 
and offering him a cigar. 

Then he went to call Charlotte. It was at that mo- 
ment rather a hard experience for Charlotte that it was 
not her mother instead of her father who called her to 
go down and see her lover. She had thought, with a 
passion of yearning, of her mother who had done the 
same thing, and would understand, as she fluffed out 
her pretty hair around her face in front of the glass in 
her room. When her father called her she ran down, 
but instead of going at once into the parlor, where she 
knew her lover was waiting for her, she ran into the 
den. She felt sure that her father had retreated there. 
She found him there, as she had thought, and she flung 
her arms around his neck. 

"I am never going to leave you alone, you know, 
papa," she whispered. 

"Yes, dear." 

" Papa, come in there with me." 

Carroll laughed then. "Run along, honey," he said, 
and gave her a kiss, and pushed her softly out of the 
room. 



CHAPTER XLII 



Carroll, left alone, lighted another cigar from force 
of habit. It was one of the abominably cheap ones 
which he had been smoking lately when by himself. 
He never offered one to anybody else. But soon the 
cigar went out and he never noticed it. He sat in a 
deep-hollowed chair before a fireless hearth, and the 
strange expression upon his face deepened. It par- 
took of at once exaltation and despair. He heard the 
soft murmur of voices from the parlor where the lovers 
were. He reflected that he should tell Anderson, be- 
fore he married Charlotte, the purpose in his mind; that 
he owed it to him, since that purpose might quite rea- 
sonably cause a man to change his own plans with re- 
gard to marrying her. He decided that he would tell 
him that night before he left. But he felt that it would 
make no difference to a man of Anderson's type; that 
it was only for his own sake, the sake of his own honor, 
that it was necessary to tell him at all. Then he fell 
to thinking of what was before him, of the new life upon 
which he would enter the next Monday, and it was 
actually to this man of wrong courses but right instincts, 
this man born and bred of the best and as the best, as 
if he were contemplating the flames of the stake or the 
torture of the rack. He felt, in anticipation, his pride, 
his self-respect, stung as with fire and broken as upon 
the wheel. He was beset with the agonies of spiritual 
torture, which yet brought a certain solace in the tri- 
umph of endurance. He had at once the agony and the 

553 



THE DEBTOR 

delight of the fighter, of the wrestler with the angel. 
What he had set himself to do for the sake of not only 
making good to others what they had lost through him, 
but what he had lost through himself, was unutterably 
terrible to him. But while his face was agonized, he 
yet threw back his head with the motion of the con- 
queror. And he owned to himself that the conquest 
was even greater because it was against such petty 
odds, because both the fight and the triumph savored 
of the ignoble, even of the ridiculous. It would be 
much easier to be a hero whom the multitude would 
applaud and worship than a hero whom the multitude 
would welcome with laughter. When comedy becomes 
tragedy, when the ignominious becomes victorious, he 
who brings it about becomes majestic in spite of fate 
itself. And yet withal the man sitting there listening 
to the soft murmur from the other room felt that his 
own life, so far as the happiness which, after all, makes 
life worth living for mortal weakness, was over. He 
thought of his wife and sister and children, who would 
be all safely sheltered, and, he hoped, even happy in 
time, although separated from him; and while his soul 
rejoiced over that, he yet could not help thinking of 
himself. Listening to the voices of the lovers in the 
parlor, he thought how he and Amy used to make love, 
and how it was all over, perhaps forever over. He 
smiled a little as he remembered how his Charlotte 
had asked him to go with her to meet her lover. Gentle 
and affectionate to his family as he was, Carroll was 
essentially masculine. He could not in the least under- 
stand how the girl felt. He felt a little anxious lest 
the child should not really love Anderson, because she 
hesitated, since he could see no other reason for her 
hesitation. However, when, about eleven o'clock, he 
heard the stir of approaching departure, and went hur- 
riedly into the hall in order to intercept Anderson be- 

554 



THE DEBTOR 



fore he went, one glimpse of the girl's little face re- 
assured him. She seemed to at once have grown older 
and younger. She was reflective, and fairly beaming 
with utmost anticipations. She looked at Anderson 
as he had never seen her look at any one. He had 
doubted a little about Ina; he had no doubt whatever 
about Charlotte. " She is in love with him, fast enough," 
he said to himself. He spoke to Anderson, and asked 
to have a word with him before he went. 

"Come back into the parlor a moment, if you please," 
he said. "I have a word to say to you." 

Anderson followed him into the room. He already 
had on his overcoat. Carroll stood close to him and 
spoke in a low voice. His face was ghastly when he 
had finished, but he looked proudly at the other man. 

"Now it is for you to say whether you will advance 
or retreat, for I think that, under the circumstances, 
nobody could say that you did not do the last with 
honor," he concluded. 

Anderson, who had also turned pale, stared at him a 
second, and his look was a question. 

"There is absolutely nothing else that I can do," re- 
plied Carroll, simply; "it is my only course." 

Anderson held out his hand. "I shall be proud to 
have your daughter for my wife," he said. 

" Remember she is not to know," Carroll said. 

"Do you think the ignorance preferable to the 
anxiety?" 

"I don't know. I cannot have her know. None of 
them shall know. I have trusted you," Carroll said, 
with a sort of agonized appeal. "I had, as a matter 
of honor, to tell you, but no one else," he continued, 
still in his voice which seemed strained to lowness. 
"I had to trust you." 

"You will never find your trust misplaced," replied 
Anderson, gravely, "but it will be hard for her." 

555 



THE DEBTOR 



"You can comfort her," Carroll said, with a painful 
smile, in which was a slight jealousy, the feeling of a 
man outside all his loves of life. 

"When?" asked Anderson, in a whisper. 

"Monday." 

"She will, of course, come straight to my mother, 
and it can all be settled as soon as possible afterwards. 
There will be no occasion to wait." 

"Amy may wish to come," said Carroll, "and Anna." 

"Of course." 

The two men shook hands and went out in the hall. 
Carroll went back to the den, and left Charlotte, who 
was shyly waiting to have the last words with her lover. 
Pretty soon she came fluttering into the den. 

"You do like him, don't you, papa?" she asked, put- 
ting her arms around her father's neck. 

"Yes, dear." 

"But I am never going to leave you, papa, not for 
him nor anybody, not until Amy and the others come 
back." 

"You will never forget papa, anyway, will you, 
honey?" said Carroll, and his voice was piteous in spite 
of himself. 

"Forget you, papa? I guess not!" said Charlotte, 
"and I never will leave you." 

That was Thursday. The next afternoon Mrs. An- 
derson came and called on Charlotte. She was glad that 
Carroll was not at home. She shrank very much from 
meeting him. Carroll had not gone to New York, but 
had taken the trolley to New Sanderson. He also went 
into several of the Banbridge stores. The next Sunday 
morning, in the barber's shop, several men exhibited 
notes of hand with Carroll's signature. 

"I don't suppose it is worth the paper it is written 
on," said Rosenstein, with his melancholy accent, frown- 
ing intellectually over the slip of paper. 

556 



THE DEBTOR 



"He gave the dressmaker one, too," said Amidon, 
and she is tickled to death with it. The daughter had 
already asked her to take back a silk dress she had made 
for her, and she has sold it for something. The dress- 
maker thinks the note is as good as money." 

"I've got one of the blasted things, too," said the 
milkman, Tappan. 

"It's for forty dollars, and I'll sell out for ten cents." 

"I'd be willing to make my davyalfit that Captain 
Carroll's notes will be met when they are accentuated," 
said the little barber, in a trembling voice of partisan- 
ship, looking up from the man he was shaving; and 
everybody laughed. 

Lee, who was waiting his turn, spoke. "Captain 
Carroll says he will pay me the price I paid for the 
United Fuel stock, in a year's time," he said, proudly. 
"The stock has depreciated terribly, too. A pretty 
square man, I call him." 

"He's got more sides than you have, anyhow," 
growled Tappan, who was bristling like a pirate with 
his week's beard; and everybody laughed again, though 
they did not altogether know why. 

However the recipients of Carroll's notes doubted their 
soundness, they folded them carefully and put them in 
their pocketbooks. When Carroll took the eight-o'clock 
train to New York the next morning, several noticed 
it and thought it looked well for the payment of the 
notes. 

"Guess he's goin' to start another cheat," said the 
milkman, who had stopped at the saloon opposite 
Rosenstein's. "I seed him git on the eight-ten train." 

Charlotte had been told by her father that he was 
going to New York that morning, and she had risen early 
and prepared what she considered a wonderful break- 
fast for him. She was radiant. Anderson had called 
upon her the evening before. She had never been so 

557 



THE DEBTOR 



happy. Her father seemed in very good spirits, but 
she wondered why he looked so badly. It was actually 
as if he had lost ten pounds since the night before. 
He was horribly haggard, but he talked and laughed 
in a manner rather unusual for him, as he ate his 
breakfast. Charlotte watched jealously that he should 
do that. When he took his second badly fried egg, she 
beamed, and he concealed his physical and mental 
nausea. 

When they were eating breakfast, much to Char- 
lotte's amazement, the village express drove into the 
yard. 

"Why, there is the express, papa!" she said. 

"Yes. honey,'' replied Carroll, calmly. "I have a 
trunk I want to send to Xew York." 

"Oh, papa, you are not going away?" 

"Sending a trunk does not necessarily imply you 
are going yourself, honey. I have a trunk to send in 
connection with some business." 

"Oh!" said Charlotte, quite satisfied. 

Carroll rose from the table and showed the express- 
man the way to his room, and the trunk was brought 
down and carried away, and Charlotte asked no more 
questions and thought no more about it. Carroll walked 
to the station. When it was time for him to start, he 
went to Charlotte, who was clearing away the breakfast 
dishes, and held her in his arms and kissed her. 

"Good-bye, papa's blessing," he said, and in spite of 
himself his voice broke. The man had reached the 
limit of his strength. 

But Charlotte, who was neither curious nor suspicious, 
and was, besides, dazzled by her new happiness, only 
laughed. "Why, papa, I should think you were going 
away to stay a year!" said she. 

Carroll laughed too, but his laugh was piteous. He 
kissed her again. "Well, good-bve, honev," he said. 

558 



THE DEBTOR 



Just as he was going out of the door he stopped, and 
said, as if it were a minor matter which he had nearly 
forgotten, "Oh, by-the-way, sweetheart, I want you, 
at exactly half -past nine, to go into the den and look 
in the third volume of the Dutch Republic, and see w T hat 
you will find." 

Charlotte giggled. "A present!" said she. "I know 
it is a present, but what a funny place to put it in, papa, 
the third volume of the Dutch Republic." 

"At exactly half -past nine," said Carroll. He kissed 
her again and went away. 

Charlotte stood watching him go out of the yard. 
It came into her head that he must have had some very 
good luck, and had taken this funny way of making 
her a present of some money. Of course it could only 
be money which was to be hidden in such a place as a 
book. Poor Charlotte's imaginations were tainted by 
the lack of money. 

She could hardly imagine a pleasant surprise uncon- 
nected with money. She hurried about her household 
tasks, and at exactly half -past nine, for she was obedi- 
ent as a child, she went into the den and got from the 
case the third volume of the Dutch Republic. In it she 
found an envelope. She thought that it contained 
money, but when she opened it and found a letter, sud- 
denly her heart failed her. She sat down dizzily on the 
divan and read the letter. It was very short. It only 
told her that her father loved her and loved them all; 
that he was writing the others just what he was writing 
her; that he loved her, but he was forced to go away 
and leave her, and not even let her know where he was 
nor what he was doing — not for a long time, at least; 
but that she was not to worry, and she was to go at 
once to Mrs. Anderson, who would take care of her 
until she was married. Then he bade God bless her, 
and said he was her loving father. Charlotte sat with 

559 



THE DEBTOR 



the letter in her lap, and the room looked dim to her. 
She heard the door-bell ring, but she did not seem to 
realize what it was, not even when it rang the second 
and the third time. But the front door had been left 
unlocked when Carroll went, and Anderson came in 
presently, and his mother was with him. Mrs. Ander- 
son knew nothing except that Carroll had gone, and 
nobody was to know where, or why, but that there was 
nothing dishonorable about it, and Charlotte was to 
come to them. She was quite pale herself when she 
saw Charlotte sitting on the divan with the letter in 
her lap. 

V I have a letter from papa," Charlotte said, piteously, 
in a trembling voice. Then Anderson had her in his 
arms and was soothing and comforting her, and telling 
her he knew all about it. It was all right, and she was 
not to worry. 

Mrs. Anderson stood watching them. "Where are 
your coat and hat, child?" said she, presently. She, in 
reality, felt that she was the proper person to have 
comforted the girl, under such circumstances, and not 
a man who knew nothing about girls, nor how they 
would feel when deserted, in a measure, by a father. 
When they were in the carriage, she sat on the seat with 
Charlotte and kept her arm around her, and looked 
across almost defiantly at her son. 

"It is a terrible strain on the poor little thing, and if 
we are not careful she will be down with a fever," she 
told Randolph, privately, when they were home. 

He laughed. "Take care of her all you want to, 
mother," he said. 

After dinner he went up to the Carroll place. He 
had his instructions from Carroll what to do. Some 
of the creditors were partly satisfied with the things 
belonging to the Carrolls; some were taken to the An- 
derson house for Charlotte. As for Charlotte herself. 

560 



THE DEBTOR 



she was, in reality, not so far from the fever which 
Mrs. Anderson had predicted. She adored her father. 
Every day she watched for a letter. At last Anderson 
told her as much as he could and not break his word to 
her father. 

"Your father is perfectly safe, dear," he said, "and 
he is earning a great deal of money." 

"What is he doing?" asked Charlotte, and her man- 
ner showed for the first time suspicion of her father. 

"Something perfectly honest, dear," Anderson re- 
plied, simply, "but he does not want you to know and 
he does not want the others to know. You just be 
contented and brave and make the best of it all." 

That was not long before they were married. It had 
seemed best to them all that they should not delay long. 
Mrs. Carroll did not come to the wedding, because Ina 
was ill. Anna knew as well as Anderson what her 
brother was doing. She had somehow comforted her 
sister-in-law without telling her anything, but she did 
not think it best to visit Banbridge. She had at times 
a feeling as if she herself were doing what her brother 
was, and the shame and pride together stung her in the 
same way. She wrote by every mail to Carroll, and 
posted it in another town, and nobody knew. In one 
of the letters she told him with an unconcealed glee 
that his old enemy, the man who had brought about 
all this, had had a shock of paralysis. 

"He will never speak again," she wrote. "He has 
become dead while he is alive. After all, the Lord is 
just." 

Carroll got that letter a few weeks after Charlotte 
was married. One Sunday night he made a trip to 
Banbridge. He was close-shaven; he had grown very 
thin; nobody would have recognized him, nobody did 
recognize him, although he met several Banbridge peo- 
ple whom he used to know on the train. It was after 

561 



THE DEBTOR 



dark, but the winter sky was full of stars, which seemed 
very near as he took his way up the street towards the 
Anderson house. He walked slowly when he approach- 
ed the house, and frequently cast a look behind him, 
as if he were afraid of being seen. When he reached the 
house he saw the curtains in the sitting-room were not 
drawn, and a warm glow of home seemed to shine forth 
into the wintry night. Carroll cautiously went up the 
steps, very softly. He went far enough to see the in- 
terior of the room, and saw Charlotte and her husband 
sitting there. Mrs. Anderson was there also. She was 
reading the Bible, as befitted a Sunday night. Now 
and then she looked at Charlotte with a look of the ut- 
most love and pride. Anderson, who was reading the 
paper, looked up, and the watching man saw him, and 
his eyes and Charlotte's met. The man watching knew 
that no anxiety about him seriously troubled her then, 
that she was entirely happy, and a feeling of sublime 
content and delight that it should be so, and he quite 
outside of it all, came over him. 

He went softly down the steps and along the street 
to the station, where he could get a train back to the 
City in a few moments. To his own amazement, he 
was quite happy, he was even more than happy. A 
species of exaltation possessed him. Even the thought 
of himself, Arthur Carroll, posing nightly as a buffoon 
before the City crowds, did not daunt him. He realized 
a kind of joyful acquiescence with even that. He felt 
a happy patience when he considered the time that 
might elapse before he could see his family again. He 
passed the butcher's shop, and reflected with delight 
that he should be able to meet the note which was due 
next day. He remembered happily that he had been 
able to send Charlotte a little sum of money for her 
trousseau, and that perhaps a part of it had bought the 
X^retty, rose-colored dress which she was wearing that 

562 - 



THE DEBTOR 



night. Still, all this did not altogether account for the 
wonderful happiness which seemed to fill him as with 
light. He hurried along the street frozen in ridges like 
a sea, and he remembered what Anna had written about 
the man who had wronged him, and all at once he un- 
derstood what filled him with this exaltation of joy, and 
he understood that underneath all the petty dishonors 
of his life had been a worse dishonor which took hold of 
his very soul and precipitated all the rest, and that he 
was now rid of it. He had no sense of triumph over his 
enemy, no joy that the Lord had at last wreaked ven- 
geance upon the man who had injured him; but he 
was filled with an exceeding pity, and a sense of for- 
giveness which he had never in his life felt before. He 
had never forgiven before; now he forgave. He re- 
membered, going along the streets, the words of The 
Lord's Prayer, " Forgive my debts as I forgive my 
debtors," and his very heart leaped with the knowl- 
edge that forgiveness was due him because of his for- 
giveness of another, and that the debt of honor to God 
and his own soul was paid. 



THE END